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Berger’s Burg: Please, Flushing Floyd, make winter disappear!

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That fleeting occasion is an accurate, statistical precursor for forecasting the coming of spring. It was so cold, I saw a politician with his hands in his own pocket! Every year, the awesome responsibility of spring forecasting is thrust squarely on the broad shoulders of this noble creature. This magical furry animal can, without foundering, signify precisely when spring will arrive. This he does simply by observing his shadow. It was so cold, when you spoke, your words froze in midair! Meteorologists the world over, including Janice Huff, Mr. G., and Al Roker, will gather to watch Floyd arise from his snug underground den. If he is frightened by his shadow, he will crawl back. If that occurs, there will be six more weeks of winter. If on the other paw, Floyd does not see his shadow, spring will arrive early. It was so cold, I had to bring in my frozen words and thaw them out so people could hear what I was saying. Floyd is a distant cousin (by about 300 miles) from the other weather observing groundhog, Pennsylvania's "Punxsutawney Phil." Why did Floyd settle in Flushing? Dunno. Perhaps it was to inhale the delicious aromas wafting down from East, the popular Chinese restaurant directly above him. It was so cold, people were putting things in the refrigerator to keep them warm. After surviving blustery January, I am winter-weary. I am weary of slip-sliding away on treacherous footing. And I am weary of thawing out my frost-nipped nose, toes, fingers, and my frost-nipped Gloria. I say here and now: Enough is enough! So, on Feb. 2, I hope that it will be a cloud-filled day. If so, the equation will apply Ð "no sun + no shadow = an early spring." However, if there is any perverse individual who might hope for a sparkling, clear day, so that Floyd sees his shadow, I fervently say, "May the next sub-zero day find you with large holes in your long-johns, your thermal socks, and your bank account." In any event, I cannot leave the matter to chance. Therefore, I hope Floyd gets a speck in his eye before he looks around and never sees his shadow be it a bright or dreary day. Spring, I need you badly. It was so cold in the morning I'd get up and chew on a chunk of coffee. At least I hope it warms up enough so the polar bear at the zoo will stop wearing the grizzly as a head-warmer. On Feb. 3, we will celebrate "Four Chaplains Day." It was on that day in 1943 during World War II that the Dorchester, an American troop ship carrying 902 servicemen and civilians, was plowing through enemy-infested waters off the coast of Greenland. It had slowed to half-speed because of ice floes. An enemy submarine fired a torpedo into the vessel's aging flank causing an explosion midship. Many on board were killed instantly or wounded. The order was given to abandon ship, and chaos set in. Many of the ship's inhabitants were trapped below deck. Others groped in the darkness for lost life jackets. On that panic-stricken deck, a noble and heroic example of interfaith bonding unfolded. The four chaplains aboard the ship worked cooperatively to allay the passengers' anxieties. They were Lt. Alexander Goode, 31, a Brooklyn-born rabbi; Lt. Clarke Poling, 32, a Dutch Reformed minister from New York; Lt. John Washington, 34, a Catholic priest from Kearney, N.J., and Lt. George Fox, 42, a Methodist from Altoona, Pa. All four had previously prayed together at chaplain school. They vowed, if disaster struck, to remain aboard until all the others were off the ship. No life jackets could be found for four GIs when the order to "abandon ship" was given. Instinctively, the chaplains pulled off their jackets and fitted them on the four men. Standing firm, they joined arms, bowed their heads in prayer, and sank to their deaths in the icy waters. This noble act became a beacon of inspiration to Americans everywhere. "Eternal forgiveness is the fragrance of a violet on the heel of the one who crushed it."

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