Dozens of children bundled up in puffy coats and brightly colored hats stared intently at the hay-filled observation arena at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, waiting patiently for Ms. G to emerge from her winter pen and, in the grand tradition of Groundhog Day, look for her shadow.
A little after 10 Thursday morning, Ms. G poked her nose out of her traveling crate and stood up on her hind legs in the sun, where the little groundhog threw a gloomy shadow.
Winter, it seems, will last for six more weeks.
Ms. G is no ordinary rodent, and she has the title to prove it. In 2014, she was named the “Official Groundhog of the Commonwealth” by the state Legislature after children at Wellesley’s Hunnewell Elementary School made it a mission to push for the designation.
As part of her duties, Ms. G travels to schools and various other locales to teach students about wildlife. She has been forecasting winter’s end for the past 10 years at Drumlin Farm, a wildlife sanctuary and working farm.
“Ms. G represents much more to us than just a fun tradition in the middle of the winter,” said Renata Pomponi, the farm’s sanctuary director.
And while Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania may get all the attention, Ms. G actually has a better record of predictions, according to the Blue Hill Observatory. The observatory’s program director, Don McCasland, said that Ms. G has been accurate 57 percent of the time over the past decade.
Punxsutawney Phil, the official groundhog of Groundhog Day, has been performing his role for far longer than Ms. G but apparently has some help. McCasland said officials consult weather forecasters to determine whether Phil should see his shadow. On Thursday, he did.
“It’s just a happy coincidence that Ms. G has a good record of accuracy,” McCasland said. “Especially when we learn how dishonest Phil’s handlers are with his predictions,” he added with a chuckle.
But the Groundhog Day tradition is really just a conglomeration of myths, McCasland said.
“Groundhogs don’t even come out of their burrows in February, it’s too cold!” he noted. The only authentic thing about Groundhog Day is the date, Feb. 2, which marks the middle of the winter.
“It’s generally the beginning of the end of the cold weather,” McCasland said.
Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that it was students at the Hunnewell Elementary School in Wellesley who successfully lobbied for Ms. G to become the state’s official groundhog.