By Alkali Springs Correspondent
We are sorry to make you gentle readers wait almost a full week to find out if Marmaduke Marmot saw his shadow or not and whether or not winter is over or there is a long six weeks left. Most folks are hoping this year for yet another six weeks, we know, because we need the moisture so desperately. However, we can only report what we have seen and heard, not what we hope the outcome may be.
For you newer readers, the western marmot is a close kin to the eastern ground hog. Not only that, but for a score of years, one particular marmot, Marmaduke, the marmot of White Pine Gulch in the far reaches of Clear Creek, has attempted to wake up from his long winter nap, go outside, look around, see if he sees his shadow in the early White Pine morning, and announce to the assembled throng whether there will be winter any longer or not.
This all sounds simple enough and straight forward, but it has not been without problems since Marmaduke has had streaks, when for three or four years at a time, he has been, for one reason or another, not able to make pronouncements to those waiting.
And at times through the years he has been very confused. Perhaps he is not well physically. He has had prostate problems. That much is known.
Anyway, Feb. 2 dawned and your trusty scribe walked through the still dark canyon up to where the old mines and miner's shack was to see what Marmaduke was going to do this year. We were the only humans in the canyon that morning. However, there were some deer, three porcupines, plenty of raccoons, a couple of beavers, one old and moth-eaten mountain lion, five elk and seven actual leprechauns who are known to live on Clear Creek between Greenough Gulch and Hungry Hollow. The leprechauns did not talk to us as that is against leprechaun law, and we did not go over to try an interview of them. No, we were all there in the crisp cold predawn gloom to see about winter and Marmaduke.
Suddenly, like thunder, the sun came up above the mountain to the east. There was a rustling as a raccoon armed with a tiny shovel dug into a drift that all but concealed Marmaduke's door from the gulch. That cleared, the raccoon knocked three times and wouldn't you know it, rooty toot toot, three times Marmaduke fired, right through that hardwood door! For that raccoon was his lady and she had done him wrong!
After that we all left in a hurry. Marmaduke never did come out. The raccoon, whose name was Johnnie, was hauled off to leprechaun land to get taped up and 2001 will go down in history as just another year that Marmaduke did not make a prediction.
For those of you who are wondering, the sun did come out and had Marmaduke come out, he would surely have proclaimed that there was six more weeks of winter. But no pronouncement means that all bets are off and we could be in for anything or nothing at all. Bet you one thing though. Johnnie, the raccoon, will be minding her P's and Q's a little more from now on!