by Connie Oswald Stofko
I used to think Groundhog Day was silly, but now I really like it.
Not because it’s accurate, of course.
Let’s take a look at what Western New York’s own Dunkirk Dave has predicted. Since he is billed as the world’s second longest prognosticating groundhog (or woodchuck), he has some experience.
In 2012, Dunkirk Dave didn’t see his shadow, which is supposed to mean we would have an early spring. That year we had record-breaking hot temperatures in March. Spring plants were two weeks ahead of schedule. However, we got frosts after that, which damaged many trees and plants that had bloomed or leafed out too soon. Still, I would say Dunkirk Dave nailed that prediction.
Last year he also didn’t see his shadow, so we should have again had an early spring, but at the beginning of April, it was still too cold to plant cool weather annuals in flower beds. By the middle of April, we had gotten some warm temperatures, then it snowed again. I would say Dunkirk Dave missed the mark on that one.
What about the years when Dunkirk Dave does see his shadow? Well, that means six more weeks of winter.
Really? Only six weeks? If you think about it, that means winter would end on March 16. Sweet!
But we’re not supposed to think about it that much. We’re supposed to interpret that shadow to mean that winter will drag on.
Despite all the vagueness of Groundhog Day, I think I understand why this tradition has gone on for so long.
It’s a win-win proposition. If the weather is cloudy or even stormy like it was yesterday in Western New York, the groundhog won’t see its shadow. Hurrah! That means an early spring.
And if it’s sunny and bright out, the groundhog will see its shadow and winter will continue. But who cares? Nobody notices because we’re all out enjoying the sunshine.
Either way, there’s something to cheer about.