Marmot Day, 1978

Wish I could fit in those jeans, but so glad I'm not that clueless! Considering how uninformed we were on this backpacking trek in the San Juan National Forest above Durango, Colorado, I'm glad to have survived with only the occasional recurring lost marmot nightmare.

It's Greta Groundhog Day, a silly holiday I never forget. In my elementary school class, my friend Greta celebrated her birthday every Groundhog Day.

In Alaska, today is Marmot Day. My personal Marmot Day [pMD] was in the snowy mid-summer. It was the first real vacation with my law-student spouse, and our budget for the two weeks was slightly over $200. My mom slipped me another hundred in case something broke on our puke-yellow Chevy Nova.

In the photo I'm smiling because no bears ate me through the whole night while I tried to sleep on the crunchy vegetation and steep slope. As you may note, I can see my shadow. That meant eighteen more years of marriage!

We were somewhere in the vicinity of Kennebec Pass, and about to encounter an abandoned mine area populated by a couple hundred chirping live fuzzy hand-puppets. They were watching our every clumsy move across the snow, and singing a warning that we were way off the beaten trail. I figured these creatures were a Greek chorus of groundhogs warning of impending tragedy.

Only after I returned to civilization and my library did I identify these creatures as marmots. My students are having some Groundhog Day ID troubles, too. We made groundhog stick puppets today, and learned groundhog poems. We reinforced concepts of months, seasons, cloudy and sunny, hibernation, and shadows. We talked about tunnels and living underground. At the end of the day the kids waiting for their rides in car line said the puppets were prairie dogs and brown dogs. Oh, Greta! We really tried, but it just didn't sink in.

A topo map of preschool will lead to many abandoned marmot mines!

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder

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