****Be sure to take the poll on my sidebar after reading this!*****Along the trail to Ruth Lake were educational stations explaining the ecology and wildlife of the area.
Formerly knowing nothing about Pika behavior or Yellow-Bellied Marmot behavior, I was amused to discover their differing approaches to winter preparation.
The Pika: During the brief summer, this active little "otter" busily harvests a variety of plant materials, dries them in the sun, then stores the "hay" in its rocky burrow. Undaunted by deep snow drifts that drive other animals to lower elevations, the pika lives off its bounty, which may contain a bushel or more of dried plants.
Quite commendable, wouldn't you say?
On the other hand....
The Yellow-Bellied Marmot: The Marmot gathers no summer harvest. Instead, it spends the summer stuffing itself with grasses, leaves, flowers, fruits and occasionally, grasshoppers or birds' eggs.
When winter turns cold, the marmot waddles into its burrow, often dragging its furry belly along the ground, and avoids the bitter mountain winters by hibernating for six months or more, living off its body fat.
Being one to ponder just about anything, it only took me a moment to realize that the Marmot had a fail-safe plan, while the Pika was counting on his stores being safe against disaster. Should a flood occur, the Pika's stores could be washed away, while the Marmot, as long as he lived, would have his winter "supplies" safely attached to his body.
I took a glance down, and could have sworn my own belly had a yellowish cast. During the summer months I too had been stuffing myself with fruits, grains, leaves, and basically anything else that was available as fresh produce. The occasional trips to the vending machine at work had served to develop an extra roll or two of fat around my middle, and then I topped all that off with a viewing of the movie "Julie and Julia", which resulted in a burst of cooking using recipes calling for cubes of butter in each dish. Two weeks later my cooking skills were back up to my college Home Ec. lab days, and my weight had rocketed past full term pregnancy levels. My underwear was feeling tight, and one day I considered calling in "fat" to work when nothing in my "professional" wardrobe felt comfortable.
Suddenly I realized it had all been very Yellow-Bellied Marmot like of me. Thank heaven summer's loose fitting clothing served to cover an expanding waistline. Ice cold fruit drinks, and frozen treats were so nice on the hot summer days; they were the perfect treats for me to consume while sitting around the deck, watching the birds at the feeders after a long day sitting at my work desk, slaving away on the computer.
But here we are at September first, and fall is just around the corner. Yes, it does sound like a perfect plan; I should continue to be YBM-ish, and drag my belly along until I waddle into my basement burrow at first snowfall, and then sleep the winter away. I would awaken in spring slenderized and ready for swim suit season and another summer of inhaling all foods with gusto, and even frying bacon in butter, as suggested by Julia Childs herself.
Sadly, my company just isn't seeing a paycheck being issued for hibernation weeks. That option does not come under Vacation or Sick Days, or even the Family Leave Act. Obamacare didn't mention it either. Looks like I am stuck with daily winter life as usual, plus personal plushness all over.
Either I buy new undies or diet.