In case you didn’t notice, last Friday was Groundhog Day and it looks like we can expect an early spring because Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow. Of course, that’s assuming you believe in giant rodents and allow them to guide your life.
Groundhog Day is a curious tradition don’t you think? We let a rodent predict our weather. Actually, it’s probably a lot more accurate than the predictions you find on most newspaper weather pages (or TV news channels!). One morning I looked at weather pages in the Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune and the Sacramento Bee on the same day and all four weather predictions were different.
We don’t do Groundhog Day around my house. I was once tempted to try “Tut & Newman Day,” in honor of my two cats, but they never seem to wake up.
So I have a weather rock. Actually, it’s a lot more practical.
It’s a round smooth stone about the size of your fist with great mystical qualities. I have it hanging from a string right outside my kitchen window. As a weather predictor, my weather rock has never been wrong. And it couldn’t be simpler. I just look out the window and get my daily weather rock forecast before heading into work.
** If my rock is all wet, I’ll take my raincoat.
** If it’s white, my snowshoes are in the closet.
** If it’s covered with ice, I’ll be prepared for slick driving conditions on the way to work.
** If the rock is swinging back and forth, it will be a windy day. (If it’s blowing straight out at a 90 degree angle, I’ll go back to bed and get under the covers.)
** If I can’t see my rock, that’s just the morning fog.
** And if the sun is being reflected off the shiny surface of my pet weather rock and hurting my eyes, I’ll expect fair weather for sure.
Sad news from Florida
Remember that great 1996 film, “Fly Away Home,” about a girl and her father who used an ultralight aircraft to lead a flock of orphan young geese from Canada to a wildlife refuge in the U.S.? The technique proved to be so successful it has since been used to teach hand-raised endangered young whooping cranes the migration route to Florida so they could learn to migrate north and south on their own.
Just imagine a whole flock of young endangered whooping cranes gliding along beside their “mama” — a smiling man flying a low-speed ultralight airplane — all the way from a wildlife refuge in Wisconsin to a refuge in Florida.
Unfortunately, here’s something else for you to imagine:
Last Thursday night, all 18 young whooping cranes that were led south from Wisconsin last fall … were killed in those Florida storms (thunderstorms and a tornado) that also killed 19 people.
What a tragic loss: 19 endangered humans and 18 endangered cranes. Sad.