The Great Muskrat Uprising
February 3, 2009
Apparently my memory is completely gone. If you had told me, as a child, that I would ever mix my muskrats and my badgers, I simply wouldn’t have believed you. But now I’ve gone and done it.
As readers were quick to point out, badgers had no role in predicting the long winter in The Long Winter:
Pa was shaking his head. “We’re going to have a hard winter,” he said, not liking the prospect.
“Why, how do you know?” Laura asked in surprise.
“The colder the winter will be, the thicker the muskrats build the walls of their houses,” Pa told her. “I never saw a heavier-built muskrats’ house than that one.”
There it is, right on page 12. Muskrats.
To make myself feel better, I tried to figure out how I could have made such a grievous error. Then I remembered the Badger Story in On the Banks of Plum Creek. This story terrified me as a child.
Laura has disobeyed Pa and is on her way TO THE SWIMMING HOLE.
She came into the path that Pa had made, and she trotted faster.
Right in the middle of the path before her stood an animal.
Laura jumped back, and stood and stared at it. She had never seen such an animal. It was almost as long as Jack [the Ingalls’ pooch] , but its legs were very short. Long gray fur bristled all over it. It had a flat head and small ears. Its flat head slowly tilted up and it stared at Laura.
She stared back at its funny face. And while they stood still and staring, that animal widened and shortened and spread flat on the ground. It grew flatter and flatter, till it was a gray fur laid there. It was not like a whole animal at all. Only it had eyes staring up.
Oh. The. Horror. Can you believe they let 9-year-olds read this stuff? Anyway, Laura later confesses to her horrible-animal-thwarted disobedience, and Pa tells her it must have been a badger. (Did I mention that “a frightful snarl came out of it. Its eyes sparkled mad, and fierce white teeth snapped almost on Laura’s nose”?)
I will divert you from my inexcusable sloppiness with this photo from a friend in the East End of London, which experienced an 18-year snowfall yesterday:
Wot’s that, luv?
Why, it’s a snow geezer, innit?
(Note handknit scarf.)
And wot’s that on ‘is ‘ead?
I think it’s a badger.