|Stormy the Prognosticator|
by Stormy on February 02, 2006
I keep hearing about a groundhog by the name of Punxsutawney Phil who each year ventures out on February 2 to predict the weather. Does this work for all marmots?
It turns out that February 2 is a cross-quarter day, meaning it's half way between two seasons (each season being a quarter of the year). The February 2 cross-quarter day is called Imbolc and it marks the day when daylight first makes significant progress against the night.
Tradition holds that when a groundhog emerges from his burrow on the cross-quarter day and sees his shadow, he will be scared and retreat into his burrow and there will be six more weeks of winter. If the weather is overcast, there will be no shadow and an early spring.
Punxsutawney Phil likes to call himself a groundhog, but he's really a marmot. Marmota monax, to be exact, commonly known as a "woodchuck" or wuchak, from the Native Americans who lived on the east coast, along the Canadian border.
This year I decided to get up early and see if a yellow-bellied marmot could predict the seasons. Perhaps I got up too early. It was a long wait for the sun to come up and when it finally got light, there were clouds overhead. An early spring? I guess we'll have to wait and see!