May’s winding down. I’ve launched a passel of heart-wrung essays and poems into cyberspace and now await editors’ yeas or nays. Waiting. Waiting. Yes, I get twitchy.
“Good Spirit,” I prayed this morning, “have your way. And please, send a blog idea.”
A marmot arrived.
In our front yard.
- Think upsized squirrel, with teeth that keep growing
- Think savvy trickster with a droll silhouette
- Intrepid tunneller / whistler / survivor of storms
Turns out these pudgier cousins to groundhogs and woodchucks arise, in May, from six months of hibernation. Seeking a mate.
Well, this one’s gonna be lonesome. After 32 years in our cedar house on the hill, this is our first visitation.
In nearby Spokane, there are colonies of them, downtown, near the river. Out here? Never.
The nickname whistle pig (for the distinctive warning call) feels undignified for an animal viewed as a wisdom keeper by some Native American tribes. Some Africans view them as agents of healing.
Christians feature them in their artwork and literature; they also malign them as symbols of gluttony.
(Gulp. While researching the critters, I binge-ate four lunch bag servings of Cheetos today.)
So. Perhaps, a heaven-sent warning?
BUT THIS . . . stopped me:
An encounter with a marmot can be read
as a sign of forthcoming assistance
in a big endeavor.
Fanciful? Perhaps. But I’m on the cusp of submitting a full-length manuscript of poems to a most excellent editor. Except . . . I’ve stalled out. Several hundred hours have gone into this project already over the past year. If the publisher accepts it, then there’s the expected undertaking of marketing and publicity—undertaking, as in engaging with certain death. I am abysmal at business.
Since the marmot feels “sent,” might this be a good-humored nudge to . . . finish up already, and hit “Send”?
“The Marmot is also a reminder that we should never give up on our dreams and goals,” writes Andy Willis, “no matter how difficult they may seem.”
Now that I can take on board. How about you? Can I join you in prayer for your current undertaking?
How do you cope with looming expectations when you feel inadequate for the task? I could really use help on this. And prayer!
P.S. Speaking of fanciful, here’s a poem I wrote several years ago, from a marmot’s point of view.
Whistle Pig Polka Beneath the Monroe Street Bridge
My fellow tunnel junkie, old twinkle-toes Hans,
warms up in our downtown digs. Too bad
Spokane’s first wooden bridge turned itself
into cinders, sifting across the gorge. These days
reinforced concrete, blithe as a skipped stone,
curves across the river like marmot ears. All-day
roar of the waves plus traffic—who hears the small
footfalls, dancing across our triple arch stage
long as 448 of us, laid out, snout to tail?
Ask any oompah-loving rodent playing the tuba,
or mini-concertina (wheezing beneath the cars
with Bohemian flair): hop-steps, close-steps,
claw-foot twirl—duple time fires the blood!
As to those chewed car wires, and the occasional
neighborhood landscape binge, Hans decrees
we all carb load. Half our lives are spent
dreaming up choreography during hibernation.
Some of us want to believe a bridge is forever.
Appeared in Spokane Writes, 2017
Feature Photo by Eli Allan on Unsplash
Classic pose with log Photo by Miguel Teirlinck on Unsplash
“On the run,” courtesy of Dreamer, who first spotted our guest