Groundhog Day and Signs of Spring: Fallacies, Facts, and Fun

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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THE BIG DAY IS ALMOST HERE! Crowds will soon gather around televisions for the final countdown. When will he appear? What will he do? Punxsutawney Phil, the furry weatherman from Pennsylvania has been slumbering in his hibernating den since late autumn. But on February 2nd Phil will stop procrastinating and make a statement at Gobblers Knob in front of an array of cameras. As crowds surge forward for a better view, he will yawn once or twice, and then without further ado will predict the weather. If he sees his shadow, he dives back into his den and we have six more weeks of winter. If there is no shadow, he lounges topside and that signals that spring will soon embrace the countryside. It’s a great tall tale, and Phil always has a 50% chance of being right.  Continue reading

Spring Beauty of the Woodlands: Round-lobed Hepatica

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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My love affair with a delicate spring wildflower, the round-lobed hepatica, transports memories back to my nature-embracing, hill-trekking, wide-eyed freshman days at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. The farm fields, meadows and wooded hillsides of the Green Mountain State became my nature discovery center. Seasons in Vermont progressed rapidly. Winter melted into maple sugar and mud season, and the amazing ephemeral wildflower season then followed. I quickly discovered hepatica my first spring in Vermont. Hepatica was a wild and free flower, so unlike what I knew from my suburban home, with closely cropped grass and flowers planted in neat rows. In Vermont, hepatica was called liverleaf, and it was this wildflower, that is now approaching peak bloom in the dappled sunlight of the oak woods on the Wilder Side of Oakland County, that helped set me on the path I still follow. Continue reading