Saturday, Feb. 2, is Marmot Day in Alaska. Following a tradition we started the year after it passed, here is the poem originally published in the Daily News on Marmot Day in 2011.
“BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA...Marmot Day is established on February 2 of each year. The day may be observed by suitable observances and exercises by school programs, the Alaska Zoo, civic groups, and the public.” -- Alaska Statutes 44.12.110
Let all loyal Alaskans today hail the Marmot, Marmot,
A most perspicacious and savvy wee varmint,
With meteorological prowess so potent
That skeptics confess it's no typical rodent.
This wonder of nature, at most a foot long,
Is not known for diving or antlers or song.
(Though it lines many parkas, because it's so furry,
And tastes good when sauteed with carrots and curry.)
Proud Marmot's formidable power, instead,
Is its vision, which looks out to six weeks ahead.
The state legislature, therefore, declared praise,
Enacting a statute -- and in just ninety days!
Henceforth and yearly on 2 February
From slumber the Marmot shall exit and tarry,
And if, in the sunlight, its shadow discovers,
Return to its den and jump back in the covers.
From shades on the snow our sage can divine
That bone-piercing cold will prevail 'til March 9.
But if skies be cloudy, then man and beast cheer,
For Marmot proclaims that fair spring is now here!
Thus children await, with unveiled incandescence,
Their Marmot Day goodies and Marmot Day presents.
With cards, lights and dance folk dismiss winter's blahs
And tell jolly stories of Old Marmy Claus.
Alas! We're a long way from warm 'skeeter season.
The temperature steadily skulks below freezin'.
The golf links are snow-packed. The sidewalks are slick.
The ice on the driveway is nine inches thick.
But if tulips don't yet appear on the hill,
We can still dream that, sooner or later, they will,
A Marmot Day custom that's easy to keep
If you make like wise Marmot -- and go back to sleep.
Find Mike Dunham online at adn.com/contact/mdunham or call 257-4332.