Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Town Monday: Groundhog Day

Everyone knows Punxsutawney Phil, the famous prognosticator from Pennsylvania. But Livingston County is home to a more accurate groundhog: Woody the Woodchuck. Maybe it's because Woody is female. Women do tend to have better instincts than men...

Seriously, though Woody the Woodchuck, a resident at the Howell Nature Center, has been right seven out of nine predictions. And, seriously, it may be because female groundhogs would have a greater need to know if it was too early in the season to bring out their babies. Woody's never had any babies, but she would likely still carry the maternal instinct.

Woody arrived at the Howell Nature Center in 1998 after her mother had been killed. A farmer brought her to the Howell Nature Center, but the critter had already lost her fear of humans. She couldn't go back into the wild. So, she was put to work. At least she works for peanuts.

At 8:15am on February 2nd, Woody will make her way out of her comfy home. If she stays out for more than 30 seconds, then that indicates an early spring.

I'll come back after Woody makes her prediction, though, and let you know what Woody says about the arrival of spring this year.

UPDATE: Woody wouldn't even come out of her paper mache log this morning, which means six more weeks of winter. Punxatawney Phil made the same prediction when he came out and saw his shadow. (Funny that puts it right about the middle of March... when the Vernal Equinox occurs.)

The rest of the year, Woody's part of the Howell Nature Centers educational programs.

But Woody's home is in danger. The Howell Nature Center is in dire straits. They may not be able to afford to continue operating. After 26 years, this may be it.

For those who don't know, Michigan has been suffering economically for far longer than the rest of the nation. Our economy started sliding before 2001. We have yet to hit bottom in the mitten state.

While spring may be around the corner weather wise, Michigan is still locked in the icy grips of an economic winter. I don't think Woody has any predictions on that one.

Travis Erwin has returned to corralling the My Town Monday posters. Stroll on over for more links.


Sepiru Chris said...

Hey Bo,

Thanks for sleuthing woody out of the woods for us.

When Woody does her almanical thing and tell us what she thinks the weather will be, I will be back thirsty for news.


Reb said...

Well, I certainly hope that Woody predicts an early spring. I find it very sad when nature centres like that cannot continue to operate due to poor funding. I hope spring is in the forecast the them too.

lyzzydee said...

How interesting, can you tell me what groundhog day is ???

debra said...

Well, it's now 8:05am. I'm looking at mounds of white and a thermometer that reads 15 degrees. Can't wait to see what Woody tells us...

Clair Dickson said...

So-- Woody predicts six more weeks of winter.

Lyzzydee-- this odd little holiday is the day when a groundhog (giant rodent that eats my Mom's garden every year) is pulled out of his hole. If he sees his shadow, it's six more weeks of winter. If not, then an early spring is predicted. Started hundred or so years ago, only then it was a badger or bear. Either way, somehow whether it's sunny on one particular day is supposed to indicate whether spring will come early or not. =)

Clare2e said...


Thanks for the illumination on Woody! Sure I like the Groundhog Day movie, but I've got woodchucks in my backyard, and I don't know why I wouldn't trust their furry little instincts.

My best friend lives in Michigan and economic winter is too right. Best to Woody, the nature center, and you and yours. It's a state of too much beauty to have so many long faces in it.

Travis Erwin said...

Around here we have to rely on prairie dogs since we have neither woodchucks or groundhogs, but they are a but shy on sticking their head out since ranchers despise the critters and tend to shoot them on sight.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I came out of my house today and predicted ten more weeks of winter. I bet I'm right.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Wow, it must have been cold if Woody wouldn't even come out of the log. This has been a really bad winter for most of the country, both literally and figuratively. Hope things improve soon in Michigan and I hope Woody doesn't lose her home.


Barbara Martin said...

Nice post. I've always liked Groundhog Day, especially the movie.