COLUMN: Time to delve into ’12

This is my Sunday column for the Jan. 1, 2012 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune. My annual predictions column is one of my favorite traditions. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Time to delve into ‘12
By Aaron J. Brown

The pathway was clogged with skunks. I hate skunks. Warm winters bring out the skunks. So I guess I hate warm winters, too.

I was deep in the tamarack marsh known as the Sax/Zim peat bog. All you find when you search for this place on Google Maps is a bunch of squiggly lines and some checked lines that denote railroads. Come to think of it, Google Maps just refers you to a PDF of a St. Louis County map from 1970.

It was time for my annual visit to the Oracle of the Sax/Zim Peat Bog, the moss-covered recluse who knows the future. But first I had to contend with these skunks. There were at least a dozen of them, but the biggest three were costumed and highly metaphorical.

The first skunk approached wearing a camouflage jacket and night vision goggles. “I am the Skunk of Fear,” he said. “I represent the trepidation people have about the new year.”

He was quickly joined by another skunk wearing a Magic Eye t-shirt. “I am the Skunk of Confusion. I do not know where I am. I do, however, have very strong opinions about politics.”

Finally, a third skunk, the biggest among them, stood at the front of the skunk mob. “I am the Skunk of Moving This Along. Join me, and I will take you to the Oracle.”

I followed him through the scrub brush, not too close, to the ancient terrestrial mound which serves as the Oracle’s home. While the skunks took to rough talk around a burn barrel I entered to speak with the woman who had all the answers about the upcoming year.

“Oracle!” I called.

She was at her breakfast nook reading something on her electronic Nook. She gave me a look and quickly stowed it in her tuque.

“I have come for the future,” I said.

“It’s already here,” she replied. “I will tell you several items for your newspaper column, but I demand something in return.”

“Anything,” I said. “Within reason,” I added.

“Find jobs for the skunks,” she said. “They have been out of work for months and have become shiftless and troublesome. They’ve been waiting for the new mines to open and hire them despite their lack of education or experience. I try to tell them, but … they are skunks.”

“I will do what I can.”

I’d have those skunks blogging before the day’s end. With this she began her predictions.

“Supporters and opponents of nonferrous mineral mining will find an uneasy peace battling a common enemy,” she opined. “Skunk bloggers.”

This Oracle was good. Real good.

“Controversy will arise when the City of Hibbing decides to tear down an old building,” she continued. “The unoccupied economic development spec building out by the airport will find itself on the chopping block when city officials forget why it was there in the first place.”

“But why?” I asked incredulously. “It’s a city treasure!”

“Safety,” she replied. “At any moment it could topple upon on a passing child.”

“Surely the local historical society will have something to say about this,” I said.

“They have already offered a bulldozer and a store of oily rags for the job,” she said.

“We will build another,” I said. “Maybe two. That’ll show them.”

“Hmmm,” she sighed. “In other news, the success of last year’s air show will inspire another big event, an exhibition of those funny flying machines that don’t fly from right before people figured out how to make machines fly back in 1905.”

“Like, that stock footage from old timey movies?”


“Why is the future picking on the airport?” I said.

“It isn’t. That would be Congress you’re thinking of.”

“Topical,” I said. “What else you got?”

“In the 2012 election it will be revealed that a presidential election involving people named Barack, Mitt and Newt is an elaborate joke being played upon the American people by the committee of industrialist that have actually run the country since Nixon resigned.”

“How will this joke be revealed?”

“In Ron Paul’s speech after the Iowa caucuses.”

“My, that will be something.” I said.

“I need to get back to my Scandinavian murder mystery,” the Oracle said. “And, as you can see through the window, the skunks have taken to chanting something they saw on the internet.”

They will become the finest bloggers in the world, I thought. And with that the skunks and I made the long walk back to civilization.

Aaron J. Brown is a writer and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He is the author of the blog and host of the Great Northern Radio Show on 91.7 KAXE.

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