Pennsylvania had Punxsutawney Phil, Annie had Waleed Fasili.   She’s had him for years, he lives on Annie’s golf course at her country club in our back yard; where else would it be.    He appeared one afternoon, as wildlife often do; little grey mustache, fedora, a stick with a bag tied to it, walking hunched over.

People in the neighborhood mistook him; often shouting, “Look at that big old chuck dad!” “Tarnation son get the Remin’ton, Maw put some logs on that fire! We eating  ground chuck tonight.”

Then poor little Waleed had to drop on all fours and run for his life.   He lost more sticks that way not to mention fedora’s.   He was more appalled at being called a chuck than being mistaken for dinner.

He wasn’t a prairie dog either even though he was called that on occasion.   Bah, just because he liked living in that little house on Annie’s prairie didn’t make him a dog.  He might have been a dawg but never a dog.

Never never was he a hedge hog, as adorable as they might be he would never hedge.  Hedge he would not!   He was a ground hog.

Annie knew he was a ground hog the moment she saw him grinding ground.   She claimed his curled little tail was a dead give away.   “All hogs have curly little tails,” she claimed.

Waleed confessed once, that his curly little tail came from an incident with  a slinky, rather than genetics.   Every time that sing songy tune came on, even the mere sound of someone humming it caused poor Waleed to tremble in fear.

When Annie saw him one afternoon contentedly grinding ground, she approached him and began to converse.    For years she had been spoiling the predictions of the ginder in PA with her weather machine.   Shadow or no shadow it was whether Annie felt like an early spring or a longer winter, and sometimes she got distracted and just let nature take it’s course.

It wasn’t the weather that bothered Annie.   It was all the money little Punxsutawney generated with his merchandise and it was that and that alone that made Annie need a ground grinder; that and the fact that grinding ground was tough work and she would be getting it for free.

Annie claimed only a ‘wild’ ground hog could accurately predict the weather.   Wild, he was because Annie’s ground hog party beginning promptly a midnight of February 2 fit right in with that type of lifestyle.   Like all of her events, people came from far and wide to partake in the festivities.

Waleed partied all night, and participated in the Battle Rap, the thing Annie had been practicing for endlessly.   With Duh-Wayne on a mic making a loud fart noises into it, occasionally a slurp when he had built up too much saliva Annie would rap, “my name is Annie and I’ll tell ya  why when I was born Slam was baking me a pie.   The name of the pie was fan-fannie that’s why she named me A-Annie.”

“Annie how about bannie pie?” I suggested trying to be helpful.

“Bannie?  What is a bannie pie?” Annie snorted.

“Like a banana.    I called you Annie Bannie sometimes.”

“Who would eat a pie made out of bananas and no one says bannie’s.”

Just then Grandfather came through the door with Annie Jr and groceries.   “We got bannie’s just like you wanted Mom-mom,” Annie Jr.  yelled.    “Slam can make a pie!”

So Annie rapped about her fannie pie…Annie Jr. rapped about ‘Slam eating a fly named bannie.’ Duh-Wayne rapped  making his own fart noises into a microphone that was behind him.

His rap was fairly original with, ‘my name is Duh-Wayne….Duh Duh Duh Wayne.”

Waleed with his rapping rendition of how much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood brought the entire house down.

The party ended at exactly 11:59 pm.   Everyone left with their Waleed balloons, shirts, stuffed toys not even knowing if Waleed saw his shadow or not.   He had actually went home around 10:30 and went to bed.   Not because he saw his shadow, but because he was simply tired.

I asked Annie on the morning the of the third, whether Waleed saw his shadow or not, I knew how Phil had fared but I was hopeful simply because my only chance of an early Spring was Annie and her weather machine.    I poured her a cup of her favorite sludge, and a slice of bannie crème pie made with her special mouse crème and set them before her.   I looked at her smiling sort of, with a hint of hope in my eyes.

Annie did her blank stare then began winking one eye and then the other, her eye balls rolled back in her head and she flopped on her back and began to spin.   “Annie, what is wrong?” I screamed.

She stopped spinning and lay flat out, still with her tongue hanging out, her face frozen in a sneer.   “Annie!” I screamed knowing she must have had a heart attack or something.

She jumped to her feet and screamed, “Six more weeks of winter.”

“Annie!” I scolded tears already pouring down my face, in reaction to her playing dead which she did 750 times a day.   “Why do you do that?”

“Cause I need sugar snow!”

“I was talking about your playing…..wait what?  Sugar snow?”

“Yeah for my new business, maple syrup!”




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