Groundhog Day at the Nature Center

Every year, a tradition featuring an unlikely star—a furry rodent—is celebrated across the country. The humble groundhog, also called a woodchuck and, in some regions, a whistle pig, is enlisted to predict the weather.

Meet Nibbles: The Nature Center’s newest resident is ready to predict the weather.

Ever since the practice began in the late 1800s in Punxsutawney, Penn., a groundhog takes an annual break from hibernation in search of its shadow. If the sun is out and the critter spots its shadow, it will return to its cozy hole in the ground and prepare for another six weeks of winter. If, on the other hand, the day is cloudy and no shadows lurk on the ground, the groundhog will stay outside, anticipating that spring is finally near.

Now the WNC Nature Center is beginning a Groundhog Day tradition of its own with a special friend named Nibbles. A new resident of the center, Nibbles will take center stage at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2.

“Nibbles came from a family who hand-raised her,” explains Sarah Oram, the director of Friends of the Nature Center. “She was imprinted by humans and is unable to be released in the wild.”

But don’t cry for Nibbles: She’s going to have plenty to do at her new home, including hanging out with movie stars. Joining her for the festivities will be actress Andie MacDowell, who played opposite Bill Murray in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day.

After listening to live folk music, old-time groundhog stories and an educational discussion, “Nibbles will be placed in the middle of a human circle to judge the onset of spring” and make her first public weather prediction, says Keith Maston, the center’s education curator.

Events will take place throughout the day, including arts and crafts activities, educational exhibits, face painting, and tea and hot chocolate in the log cabin.

For more details, visit www.wildwnc.org or call 298-5600.

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About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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