What would groundhog say about Natchez?

Published 12:01 am Sunday, February 3, 2019

Saturday morning’s bizarre Pennsylvania ritual in which a bunch of guys in top hats drag a groundhound out of his burrow to predict the weather got me thinking, Natchez needs a groundhog.

OK, I realize groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, don’t really live in our part of the South, so we’ll have to improve a bit.

Arnie the Armadillo?

Bubba the Bullfrog?

Charlotte the Crawfish?

Natchez Nutria?

The name and animal aren’t as important as what Punxsutawney Phil represents — hope for the future.

On Saturday morning, the world-renowned woodchuck allegedly couldn’t see his shadow, thus predicting spring was around the corner.

The staged drama provided some warm hope for the people standing in single-digit temperatures to watch the Phil’s emergence. He delivered hope.

Natchez needs some hope.

Or perhaps more on point, it needs to simply focus on the things that are going on right now in a more hopeful, positive way.

Life is filled with people who saddle their lives with their negative, self-fulfilling prophecies.

Constantly think something bad is about to happen? It probably will.

Motivational speaker and author Dennis Waitley may have said it best:

“If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.”

Natchez isn’t on the crest of its economic high, but things are looking up. If we were to drag out old Arnie the Armadillo, he might point out the hope that our winter may be short lived.

Drive around town and you can either see the “can’t” in our community or you can focus on the “cans.”

In the positive column, look at some changes — current and on the horizon.

The Natchez Eola is being rehabilitated after years of being vacant. That’s amazingly good news for downtown. What a happy day it will be when the grande dame of Natchez reopens. Already the demolition work has begun showing promise. The work to open up the hotel’s Pearl Street courtyard already seems to make the place look more inviting. Bowie’s Tavern, a smart addition to Natchez brought by the late Ed Worley, got a new owner this week. Although temporarily closed, when it reopens the business should have new life and a new vigor.

Bowie’s long time sister business, Dunleith Historic Inn should also have a new owner soon and again that new owner likely will improve upon what’s there, giving more hope to Natchez.

I’ve lost track of the number of tourism boats that periodically stop in Natchez now, but Arnie loves them all and so should we all.

Natchez’s future is what we make of it and how we choose to approach the present and the future.

Do we simply focus on what’s lost, what we don’t have and convince ourselves why we’re stuck in neutral?

Or do we focus the great resources we have and how we can work smartly and together to make things better?

Regardless of whether we have Arnie the Armadillo or not the hope for Natchez’s future needs to come from within us.

Natchez remains a great community, but let’s put aside our current perceived problems and focus on things we can control to make our community better.

Dennis Waitley again frames this up well:

“Virtually nothing on earth can stop a person with a positive attitude who has his goal clearly in sight.”

Let’s stop looking downriver at the water that’s well past and focus upriver on what’s ahead.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.