The Marmots and the Green Valley: A Modern Fable


A colony of marmots lived on a mountain range, and every day had to climb steep inclines and slippery stones in order to find enough to eat.  One day a few of them looked over the edge of a cliff and saw that the valley was full of green things to dine upon.  They told the other marmots about their discovery.

“All we have to do is leap down a short distance,” they said, “and we’ll have plenty to eat for the rest of our lives.”

Most of the marmots were skeptical.  “You do remember that we have bad depth perception because our eyes are on either side of our head, right?”

“Oh, that’s just an outdated belief,” the proponent marmots replied.  “We know better than that, now.”

A couple of marmots did believe them, however, so the proponents decided they needed to convince the rest of the group.  Their arguments convinced a few others to join them, and when that no longer worked, they resorted to calling the contrarians names.  Over time more marmots joined their cause.  Some truly believed there was more food at the bottom of the cliff, but others just wanted to be left alone.

Eventually most of the marmots agreed the best thing to do was leap off the cliff, but a few hard-headed individuals still claimed that wasn’t a good idea.  Now that the proponents outnumbered them, they ganged up on the contrarians and twisted their tails and bit them and shoved their faces into mud puddles.

A couple more marmots from the contrarians joined the proponents to end the abuse, but the rest finally escaped and retreated up the steep incline to straighten their tails and lick their wounds and dig the mud out of their noses and ears.

With cheers of victory, the proponent marmots leaped off the cliff.  Screams of agony replaced the cheers as their bodies were broken and ripped on the jagged rocks far below that were covered with a thin film of moss – which was what appeared like lush greenery from the distant edge above.

One marmot had been busy digging the mud from her ears and missed the order to leap.  Horrified by the wails and moans she then heard (her bad depth perception kept her from really seeing what happened), she climbed up the steep incline to the remaining survivors.  After reporting what happened and apologizing for the bad treatment, she rejoined the colony, and they proceeded to rebuild and repopulate.

Future generations sometimes peered over the cliff’s edge and debated if those white things scattered around really were bones….

Moral:  It’s better to dig mud out of your ears than have your bones scattered over sharp rocks.

copyright 2021 A. E. Branson

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