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Groundhog Day, or Shadow-or-Not Day!

Groundhog Day is special for me. Long ago on this date I gave gifts to my children Heidi, Jeffrey, and Sean. Their presents were wrapped in plain brown paper, and marked with the "paw print" of the Great Groundhog. And I always link February 2 with spring. Why spring? In the northern half of Earth the day length grows through January and into February, a trigger to male songbirds to give their spring mating songs. So by February 2 we can hear at least 7 or 8 species singing--daily reminders that real spring is on its way.
I'm fond of groundhogs, also known as woodchucks (though not when one feasts on plants in the vegetable garden). However, the myth that a groundhog has the power to predict weeks of future weather is beyond silly. You know the story: if the groundhog sees its shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. On a cloudy day there is no shadow: an early spring! It occurs to me that we don't need a groundhog for this "prediction." We can use a stick in the ground, or a pole, or a tree, or a person--anything standing outdoors! All casting a shadow--or not. Give it a try. Go outside during the day on February 2. If it's sunny, you will see your shadow. If it is cloudy, you won't. Congratulations on your amazing powers of weather prediction! Read More 
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