What do Groundhogs and Robert Frost Have to Do with Courage?

Groundhogs Day.


Mr. Groundhog” by Richard Kelland is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I am brought back to February 2, 1995. It was a cold and brutal winter in the Savage North. I was a junior in college at the University. The boyfriend I had at the time was hundreds of miles away. I was battling what I thought was mono; but what I learned later was severe allergies. I was exhausted all the time. I was lonely in a house with 7 roommates. Then the groundhog sees his shadow, guaranteeing us another 6 weeks of dark, cold winter.

At a point in life when everything was possible and laying before me, when I should have been full of optimism about the future, that stupid groundhog’s prediction dashed my little remaining winter-shriveled hope. I sobbed over the news. Was I a drama major? I was not; but I was as dramatic as most 20-year-old girls can be.

At that time in my life, I would have put great hope in anything, groundhogs included. I was very superstitious. For a 20 year-old, I felt my life so very random and chaotic, myself so emotional and misunderstood; and so I put my faith in anything that would make me feel less alone, less chaotic. As I read Robert Frost this morning, that youthful feeling was brought back for me and captured so well in The Tuft of Flowers*

And I must be, as he had been, —alone,

“As all must be,” I said within my heart,

“Whether they work together or apart.”


Looking at my 14 year old now, I see him entering his darker days. Loneliness touches him more often than the exuberance of his younger days. As he moves from the black and white easy to understand world of childhood into the complex gradient grays of adulthood, he feels alone even in a crowd. I see it.


What about courage I began to speak about in the last post?

Well, what I know is courage comes from the Latin word cor meaning heart. So, my job as him mom is to teach him how to throw his heart into life; how to not become dis-cor-aged. How to balance feeling alone with finding hope…in things other than groundhogs…for the love… because let’s trust I’ve learned a thing or two in 20 years!


If I want my son to grow up practicing courage, then I need him to see that sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is ask for help.

Sometimes, you need to ask to borrow courage to get through your tough or lonely moments.


The way through discouragement and back to hope in the past week for my three has looked like: hand holding through tears, cheerleading through nerves, whispers of “I’m sorry,” time taking about tough stuff, and acknowledgement of feelings no matter what they are. Courage has been me loaning courage to prevent each of them from loosing hope.

Loneliness breeds fear, but if you pay attention, Mr. Frost tells us:

“Men work together,” I told him from the heart,

“Whether they work together or apart.”

And that is much better than groundhogs…sorry Phil!

*  P. 18 Robert Frost’s Poems. with an Introduction and Commentary by Louis Untermeyer. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. c. 1971

One thought on “What do Groundhogs and Robert Frost Have to Do with Courage?

  1. Pingback: Let the Sun Shine In… | Notes from the Savage North

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