The Canadian Press Wiarton, Ontario, Mayor John Close listens to groundhog Wiarton Willie's weather prediction in Wiarton on Saturday February 2, 2013. The groundhog prognosticator predicted an early end to winter.

Well, it’s a dry cold.

Sure, it’s the coldest winter in 17 years. On Thursday, the CBC helpfully went out and tried to find a place colder than Saskatchewan. Turns out there were a whole bunch — at least five: Alert, Nunanvit, -41 C, The North Pole, -39, Unpronouncable place in Siberia, -51, Vostak Station in Antarctica, -36.

Oh, and Mars, -55 C.

So what are you complaining about? OK, we gave Mars a run for its money on Friday when it went to -48 C in Moose Jaw with the wind chill, but remember, it’s a dry cold.

If that’s not a sufficiently desperate hope, you could always cling to the Groundhog Day forecasts of Punxsutawney Phil and Wiarton Willie, both of whom failed to see their shadows on Saturday, which is supposed to mean that the coldest winter in 17 years will be mercifully short.

A good thing because Environment Canada figures it’s already been way too long. So far, south Saskatchewan has enjoyed 84 days with snow and lived through more than a month of days -20 C or colder. SaskPower is experiencing record consumption peaks — last Wednesday, frostbitten residents devoured 3,379 megawatts of power, and that’s pretty close to a capacity of 4,100 megawatts. Better turn the toaster down to blond.

Of course, you have to be careful about putting your faith into a weather forecasting rodent. Phil and Willie are in alignment, but not so for Shubenacadie Sam (Nova Scotia) or Val D’Espoir’s Fred La Marmotte, who both spied their shadows and scrambled back into their burrows to hunker down for six more weeks of winter.

It’s ridiculous when you think about it. Who cares what rodents from afar think about the weather? Or come to think of it, who cares what rodents think about anything? Do rodents even think?

That hasn’t stopped neighbouring provinces from adopting their own prognosticating varmints. Manitoba has Winnipeg Willow the woodchuck, who saw her shadow while out chucking wood on Saturday. Then there are the ersatz weather rodents, such as Alberta’s Balzac Billy, some guy (?) in a gopher suit who failed to see his shadow, promising an early spring.

When it’s good news, you have a tendency to overlook where it’s coming from.

The irony is that Saskatchewan has a perfectly good rodent, arguably the most famous gopher in the land, Gainer, who was actually out and about in Moose Jaw on the -48 C day. But as he’s usually the mascot of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, no one ever thinks to get his opinion on what’s left of winter.

If Alberta can get its fake gopher mentioned in national dispatches, imagine what can happen when Gainer throws his shadow into the ring? The only problem is, whether or not he sees his shadow, you can bet we’re in for six more weeks of this nonsense. At least.

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