Dick Grant, Executive Director of the Howell Conference and Nature Center, shows Woody The Woodchuck to Lilly Ruiz, 5, (front) and Isa Ruiz, 9, at the Howell Nature Center. (Mark Bialek / Special to the Detroit News)
Howell — Six more weeks of winter? Say it ain’t so, Woody.
Woody the Woodchuck, Michigan’s official weather-predicting groundhog, postulated Sunday the winter of our discontent won’t be ending anytime soon.
She failed to leave her abode during the annual Groundhog Dog celebration at the Howell Conference & Nature Center.
That means only one thing: winter will run its full course this year. Had she come out and lingered more than 30 seconds, we could have expected an early spring.
Say what you want about her methods, but Woody has compiled an enviable record in predicting the length of the season. She’s been right 11 of the past 15 years.
“The beaver has spoken,” said Simon Alexander, who attended the celebration and is still learning about nature.
As for Punxsutawney Phil, Woody’s more famous cousin from Pennsylvania, he also predicted a full winter. Rabid followers of weather-predicting groundhogs know Phil’s predictions are little more than wild guesses. He’s been right 46 of 117 times, according to StormFax, a weather website.
In past years, Woody has waddled out of her papier-mache tree stump and quickly scampered back in, dooming us to a longer winter.
This year she didn’t even move a muscle.
A crowd of 150, clearly weary of this cold, snowy season, loudly groaned as Woody failed to budge.
“It was a pretty definitive decision,” said Dick Grant, the center’s executive director.
But Grant was philosophical. Pointing out Groundhog Day falls directly in the middle of winter, he said we’re now closer to the end of the season than the beginning.
Grant is definitely a warm-weather enthusiast. Clad in shorts and a t-shirt, as he is every year, he shivered through Woody’s pronouncement.
“Oh, yeah, it freezes my brain,” he said. “Earlier years were colder.”
To show the yin and yang of the seasons, half the stage holding Woody’s home was decorated with skis and snowshoes while the other half had sand, palm trees and lounge chairs.
In case you were wondering, Woody isn’t susceptible to bribes. Her handlers laid out her favorite food, peanuts and bananas, around the stump to coax her outside.
But Woody, like the two-legged species watching, didn’t want anything to do with this weather.