Saturday, May 19, 2007

David Sedaris Loves Marmots

It's true, actually. David Sedaris visited Spokane for the 2005 Get Lit! festival. The morning of his speaking engagement, he went for a walk downtown and encountered the herd of marmots that roams Riverfront Park, grazing and occasionally accosting passers-by for potato chips and cigarettes. Hey, these are urban marmots, baby.

That evening, Mr. Sedaris spoke briefly about the marmots. He explained that he got a haircut before the show, and asked the barber about the weird giant rodents wandering through the downtown park. The barber said that they were marmots, and essentially harmless as long as you didn't bogart the food.

And what do they eat? Sedaris asked.

The barber knew just what marmots eat. Marshmallows, he said. Marmots eat marshmallows.

I'm sure they would eat marshmallows, given the chance. Spokane Parks Department has begun a campaign to discourage feeding park wildlife and make the marmots more skittish around people, though. The marmots were beginning to resemble fuzzy toilet seat covers from all the handouts. It's difficult to pretend that you're maintaining a natural environment when you have a colony of obese marmots sprawled on the warm river rocks, Big Gulps propped up on their stomachs, handfuls of pork rinds stored in their little cheek pouches.

The feeding also had to stop because too many Spokane residents are not born naturalists. People loved to feed the small furry critters who would come right up to the restaurant patio or the picnic blanket and make big beseeching eyes and take the food right out of your hands and clutch it endearingly between little furry paws. Except some of those "marmots" had long, pink, snaky tails. Almost like, I don't know, wharf rats?

Awww. Cute!

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