- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 2) marks the 125th annual Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pa., and you know what that means.
That's when a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his burrow and predicts the weather.
If he sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter. No shadow? An early spring.
What's probably going to happen: Our buddy the pudgy Punxsutawney will pop out of his burrow only to encounter a...snowstorm. A bone-chilling, teeth-chattering snowstorm.
Maybe we ought to skip the groundhog mascot altogether and determine the weather by a honey bee at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.
If a bee--we'll call her Harriet the Honey Bee--exits her hive and forages in the cape mallow (Anisodontea hypomandarum), spring is just around the corner. If she declines to leave the hive, then it's below 50 degrees and too cold for her to fly and too early for us to think about spring anyway.
There are no groundhogs in Davis, but if you separate the two words, "ground" and "hog," we have both. We have ground squirrels burrowing around the bee facility grounds, and we have hogs in the nearby UC Davis Hog Barn. In a way, our porcine pals are "ground" hogs because pigs don't fly despite what anyone says.
For the rules...if Harriet the Honey Bee exits the hive, visits the cape mallow and rolls in the pollen, we'll have an early spring.
If Harriet the Honey Bee exits the hive and stings a ground squirrel, well, ouch! They should be more like flying squirrels. Or flying pigs, which don't exist. Weather forecast: Dismal.
If Harriet the Honey Bee exits the hive and goes hamward bound, resulting in a hog going into four-squeal drive, that's not good. We may have to forget about weather predictions for awhile.
One thing we know for sure. Ol' pudgy Punxsutawney will exit his burrow tomorrow in snowy Punxsutawney. Our streamlined Harriet the Honey Bee will exit her hive in sunny Davis.
Folks in Pennsylvania are crazy about Punxsutawney, but frankly, we're just wild about Harriet.