Wellesley to celebrate Groundhog Day with Ms. G, new book

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You did know that Massachusetts has an official State groundhog, didn’t you?

It’s true, thanks to a campaign by Hunnewell Elementary School students and Emmy-award winning broadcast meteorologist and Hunnewell mom Mish Michaels. They’ve seen to it that Ms. G, the Bay State’s first and only groundhog-by-law, will count Monday, February 2 as her first official forecast. She will present her prediction at 10:00 a.m. that morning at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm.

As a reminder, legend has it that every year on February 2, the lowly groundhog comes out of its hole to consider the wisdom of ending its hibernation.  If the animal doesn’t see its shadow (ie, if the weather is cloudy), then (obviously) spring will come early.

If it’s sunny, however, and Ms. G sees her shadow, then the old story says she snuggles back into her burrow, hits the snooze button, and leaves the rest of us aboveground to suffer with six more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil has since 1887 been the unchallenged seer of spring predictions, but heck, he’s all the way in Pennsylvania, so can he really tell what’s going to happen here in New England? Ms. G doesn’t think so, and stands ready to serve as this area’s rodent of choice when it comes to reassuring the desperate that spring will indeed come soon.  Or dashing their fragile hopes, I suppose, but let’s not dwell on the negative.

To give Ms. G the respect she has coming to her, there will be a Groundhog Day celebration at the Wellesley Free Library from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. As part of the celebration, Michaels will be releasing her new children’s book, Ms. G’s Shadowy Road to Fame. Students involved in the campaign are depicted in watercolors throughout the book, as is Hunnewell Elementary School and Michaels’ daughter’s real-life first-grade teacher. Many of the students will be on hand to autograph books, and Wellesley Books will be selling the books on-site.

unnamedThe book is hard cover, full color, 62 pages, and retails for $18. Ten percent of profits will go to Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm to help care for Ms. G and her farm friends. The rest will go to Michaels’ illustrator. The book will also be available on Amazon and MAStateGroundhog.com

The book was a labor of love for Michaels and took seven years to complete. She conceived of the idea to run a campaign to make Ms. G the Massachusetts State groundhog when she was working with Mass Audubon on stories for WBZ. Ms. G’s first forecast was in 2008 and attracted only 25 people. On Feb 2, 2014 over 2,000 people showed up. Michaels watched it all on TV from a Boston hospital where she was otherwise occupied giving birth. Her second daughter was born on Feb 3, 2014 at 4:50 a.m., keeping her mom from the excitement of  Groundhog Day birthday by just hours.

Nobody ever said the road to book publishing runs smoothly. Michaels wrote multiple versions and was working closely with a publisher, only to realize that the true storyline was being dismantled, so she decided to self publish.

Because although Ms. G’s road to fame may have been shadowy, when it comes to publishing a book that’s a labor of love, thrusting the true story out into the light is the only way to go.