We Pennsylvanians have a rather tenuous grasp on weather, that is to say we’re not exactly meteorologically savvy. At daybreak every February 2nd, we gather by the thousands at a knoll in Punxsutawney–warmed by nothing more than beer and stupidity—and wait for a groundhog (also known as a woodchuck, a whistle-pig, or a land beaver) to announce that winter is over. We pass the next six weeks nursing our hangovers, lopping off frostbitten fingers, and cursing the animal for misleading us.
So deeply committed are we to our belief in animals as harbingers of weather events, we continue to do so straight through March. You know that saying if March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb? In Pennsylvania, that’s science we can get behind!
This year March came to Pennsylvania roaring like a lion—snow, freezing rain, blustering winds, the whole deal. But even if it had come in mild as a lamb, March can hold its head up high. PR-wise, March is covered. Option one: lion– fierce, courageous, dignified, regal, lethal. Option two: lamb–peaceful, pastoral, gentle, and when simmered among root vegetables and served with a Guinness, mighty tasty.
Truthfully, March could do a lot worse than coming in like either a lion or a lamb. To prove the point, let’s take a look at five animals March is glad it will never have to come in as.
1. The blob fish
Holy mother, the blob fish is a mess. With a body made primarily of shapeless, gelatinous goo, it hovers slightly above the deep ocean floors off the coast of Australia. The pressure is so strong at blob fish levels that a gas bladder would be useless, and the environment is so dark it has no need for elaborate camouflage. So there you have the blob fish, ghostly pale and looking like a foot long lugie, just biding its time and waiting for edible substances to float past its apathetic, expressionless face–kind of like a Steelers fan by the end of Super Bowl 2013.
2. The angler fish
Like all men, the male angler fish lives only to find a woman and get lucky. But the manner in which angler fish reproduce gives whole new meaning to the term hook-up. While the female angler fish is a hideously scary looking deep sea creature whose cameo appearance in the movie Finding Nemo haunts children to this day, the male angler fish is tiny and rather benign. When he
finds a female, he swims right up and bites into her flesh—and that’s where the real magic begins! The female begins to absorb the male; her blood vessels fuse with his, and his body actually disintegrates—except for the testicles, which remain behind as small lumps on the surface of her skin, providing her a continuing source of sperm. And since a female angler fish can—ahem—host up to six males at a time, she might end up with quite a few semipermanent testi-lumps. Years later when their children look at family portraits, little angler fish will see Dad reduced to nothing but his balls, while Mom appears to be suffering from a severe case of sperm-filled cystic acne.
3. The blood squirting lizard
Lizards are amazing. They’re like little real-life dragons, right here for us to visit at Reptile Land or occasionally even bring home in a tiny
box marked Petco. But at least four species of lizards are such drama queens that, when confronted by a predator, they hold their breath so hard the pressure inside their skulls increases, tiny blood vessels in their faces rupture, and they shoot a stream of foul smelling, bad tasting blood RIGHT OUT OF THEIR FREAKING EYEBALLS, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY! I’m sure there are those who would find the whole blood-shooting eyeball thing to be incredibly cool, kind of like the way Spiderman shoots out webs. But the unfortunate coyote or cougar who receives a faceful of bloody lizard tears will have something to tell his therapist next session.
4. The hooded seal
Guys, imagine you’re spending a leisurely day by the ocean. An attractive woman walks by, and you feel a familiar swelling. In your face. Yes, imagine that whenever you see a beautiful woman, the skin from your eyebrows to your upper lip inflates to a pink, balloon-shaped
sack the size of your head, and that you’re overcome with the manly urge to honk and wave that big, pink, balloon around so that it flaps and attracts the attention of anyone within eye- or ear-shot. Horrified? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
5. Darwin’s frog
That Darwin—what a wacky guy. Not only did he give scientists and creationists a reason to draw swords for all time, but he loaned his name to a variety of frogs whose male holds the developing tadpoles in his vocal sac while they mature, and then brings them into the world by spitting them up. Human females will tell their own birthing room dramas as often and to as many people as will listen. But if women gave birth to their babies by vomiting them up… well, that’d be a deal-breaker.
So here in Pennsylvania, we wait and watch outside our windows to glimpse March’s mood. Will it roar like a lion, or will it be cuddly like a lamb? Whatever–as long as March doesn’t come shooting sloppily out of February’s eye or upchuck April like a bad Mexican dinner, it’s all good.