In most years, Groundsheep Day is merely a lighthearted midwinter tradition. This year, however, it's personal. Just like everyone else in the Northeast, we are sick to death of this #$%^&* weather! It snows every other day, the roads are a mess, and the thermometer hasn't seen the right side of 40 since Thanksgiving. Plus, we're completely out of room in our yard to put any more snow, to the point where, after the next storm, we're going to have to try flushing it down the toilet, one shovelful at a time.
The bottom line is, if that stupid sheep doesn't serve up an early spring this year, he's toast. We can't take six more weeks of this winter! So, for the past few days, Scott and I tried to impress upon Shearson the fact that there would be, shall we say, consequences if he were to see his shadow this February 2nd:
Alas, we're pretty sure the danger never quite penetrated the groundsheep's pea-sized brain:
So what could we do? My idea was to bury Shearson in the back yard and not dig him out until...well, preferably never. Sadly, it turned out that would violate the Sacred And Official Laws Of Groundsheep Day (9th Edition) and would be punishable by (*gulp!*) six more months of winter! But then, Scott had a better idea: Suppose we arranged it this year so that when we released the groundsheep, he couldn't see his shadow...?
One quick visit to Southwest.com later, we had two tickets to Albuquerque, NM. At 4am on Wednesday morning, we grabbed the sleepy groundsheep off my bookshelf, got into the car, and headed to the airport:
It took us a little while to get through Security. First, Shearson insisted on riding through the x-ray machine. Then, he was pulled over by a TSA agent for one of those new "enhanced pat-downs." We tried to warn the guy, but...(*sigh*). Anyway, when the carnage was through, the groundsheep had a hearty breakfast and a new hat, plus he earned a raucous standing ovation from everyone in the security line:
Before long, we were in the air...:
...and a few hours later, we touched down in New Mexico, rented a car, and soon arrived at our diabolical destination just as the sun was coming up:
Carlsbad Caverns – two miles underground! Let that stupid groundsheep try to see his shadow in here!!
Shearson wandered off to see, so to speak, what he could find for lunch, while Scott and I futilely tried exchanging high-fives in the dark. For a while, the only sound we could hear was him softly munching on a few bats in the distance. Then, we heard something we didn't expect: long, loud crunching noises!
With some trepidation, we walked in the direction of the strange sound. And we walked, and we walked, and...geez, how deep is this cave, anyway? After what seemed like hours, we saw something in the distance that made our hair stand on end: a faint pinprick of what was unmistakably...SUNLIGHT?!? Scott and I ran as fast as we could, but the groundsheep had already reached the exit, and to our horror we saw:
Holy crap! Shearson not only ate his way to Japan, but now he was enormous! Had he chewed through some mysterious radioactive substance left over from World War II that had morphed him into a giant, city-destroying monster? Were we about to witness Sheepzilla Attacks!??
Nah. Turns out that Tokyo's just not as big in real life as it looks on TV:
At any rate, we have good news and bad news to report. The bad news is that the groundsheep wound up seeing his shadow after all. The good news: we're pretty sure this only means that Japan's going to have six more weeks of winter. As for we Philly folks, we'll just have to wing it.
And that's it for this year's edition of Groundsheep Day. We're enjoying a tour of the city before we head home. The Japanese are so friendly, and they've really taken a liking to the groundsheep. Er, all except for the curators at the Tokyo Aquarium, that is. We probably should've explained to Shearson beforehand that it wasn't a sushi restaurant. Take care, stay warm, and we'll see you in 2012.
- Nick, Scott, and Shearson.
With special thanks to a certain wonderful wife and mom who served as photographer, on the condition that we leave her name out of it.