This week we had an important celestial event: Groundhog Day, or as we call it in Alaska, Marmot Day. Monday was the day when all America watched to see if groundhogs cast a shadow. In Sun Prairie, Wis., Jimmy, the groundhog mascot, bit Mayor Jonathan Freund on the ear. There have been some fierce conversations at Homer City Council meetings, but to the Betster’s knowledge, no one has ever bit the mayor.
Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Celtic tradition of Imbolc. It’s the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. On Imbolc, the goddess Cailleach gathers her firewood. If it’s sunny, that means Cailleach needed a good day to gather more firewood for a longer winter. If it’s gloomy, that means she slept in and didn’t need firewood and the winter will be shorter.
Well, we know how Monday turned out. Yup, another sunny day in paradise, with temperatures hovering just below freezing. Marmots, moose, bald eagles and all sorts of critters saw their shadows. That “six more weeks of winter” thing must be a lower latitude idea. Has there ever been a time in Alaska when we didn’t have six more weeks of winter after Feb. 2? Sure, we might have erratic winters where it seems like winter has ended and then bounces back with a vengeance. Seasoned Alaskans know you don’t put away the snow shovel until mid-May.
Check out the sunrise-sunset tables on page 2, though. Holy Tanning Butter! Today the sun rose at 9:08 a.m. and sets at 5:33 p.m., a whomping 8 hours and 24 minutes of light. We’re talking overtime, Betsteroids. That’s reason enough to celebrate. And how might you do that? Well, with all these mighty fine Best Bets:
BEST HEY HO – LEGO! BET: On dreary winter days, the Betster would hang out with friends and make super-awesome LEGO creations. We’re not talking kits, either, but from scratch projects. Want to hang with other LEGO fans? Check out LEGO @ the Library, the monthly LEGO building club for ages 7-12. They meet 3:30-5 p.m. Fridays at the Homer Public Library.
BEST PUMP IT UP BET: New England Patriots fans probably are riding a lot of fat bikes this week with all the snow the northeast got — or is that Super Bowl confetti? If you haven’t ever seen a fat bike cruise over snow and want to check out the latest year-round biking sport, drop in at the Big Fat Bike Fest from Friday-Sunday. There are bike rides, an obstacle course at Bishop’s Beach, and from 3-6 p.m. Saturday the Big Fat Bike Festival silent auction and raffle at Alice’s Champagne Palace.
BEST FACE OFF BET: At Bunnell Street Arts Center there’s Michael Conti’s “On Hockey,” with lots of cool masks, and at Ptarmigan Arts you can catch “Faces.” Yeah, quell coincidence, but the art of the image is what this First Friday is all about. Check out other shows at the Homer Council on the Arts and the library.
BEST BIG OUT LOUD BET: Want to get inspired to read Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” this year’s Big Read book? Watch the staged reading of the play adaptation by Pier One Theatre actors at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Homer Public Library.