Oracle sees much to do in 2022

Photo by David Selbert from Pexels

Tossing in bed on a dry winter night I wake to get a drink of water. After a sip I hear a strange gurgling from the toilet. Bubbles rise from the drain pipe. 

Soon the water becomes more turbulent. A terrible groan emerges from the bowl. Like toothpaste from a tube, up comes an otter wearing a tiny wetsuit.

The new year is upon us. I know my otter friend is here to escort me to the Oracle of the Sax-Zim bog for her 2022 New Year predictions.

“Why the wetsuit?” I ask the aquatic mammal.

“Me need keep fur fresh for date tonight,” he croons in his squeaky tenor. “Come with me.”

What follows is most unpleasant, but culminates with me in a strange submarine deep in the aquifer below my house. 

“Lake under the lake,” the otter says, cryptically. 

We are on our way to the Sax-Zim Bog by a route I never thought possible. Especially considering that this submarine was constructed by forest creatures using garbage cans, an old boat motor, and a whole lot of caulk.

We arrive at the Oracle’s mossy mound home deep in the swamp. She waits by the underwater portal in her earthy splendor.

“Last year you said COVID-19 would be done,” I say to her.

“God as my witness,” she says, “I thought everyone would get the shot. Come in and sit down.”

She brews tamarack tea on her hotplate and continues with her 2022 predictions.

“Iron Range towns will duel with increasingly elaborate arena plans,” she says. “This will result in a retractable roof National Football League stadium being built Hoyt Lakes with the hope of attracting an expansion franchise by 2035.”

Why not hockey? I ask.

“Because Virginia and Hibbing are already fighting over the right to ask the IRRRB for money to buy the Carolina Hurricanes,” she replies. 

Sounds speculative. 

“Ha!” she snorts. “There’s more. People along the Mesabi Range will be surprised to learn that they have to move yet another road to accommodate mining. This one will include an underground tunnel beneath McQuade Lake west of Cherry that deposits motorists in Iron Junction where they will meet the transport choppers that carry them to Highway 53.”

Sounds messy, I remark. 

“No worse than what they did to Highway 5,” she says. “Or the diplomatic tensions at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.”

Will John Shuster’s rink win another gold medal? I ask.

“They will come close,” says the Oracle. “But a crew of Chinese political prisoners on a work detail will accidentally smash their curling stones. Which brings me to another matter: the election.”

Uh-oh, I say. What’s the will of the people?

“Republican hopes of sweeping midterm elections will be complicated by a resurgence of tuberculosis, smallpox, diphtheria and other diseases easily prevented by vaccines. Former President Trump will respond by calling the Angel of Death a “big time liberal.”

I ask, what are Death’s politics?

“Don’t be foolish,” she says. “Everyone knows Death is a libertarian. He won’t shut up about it.” 

Will there at least be some relief for essential workers in 2022? I ask.

“Local school fundraisers will be rendered unnecessary when a PTA mom invents a new cryptocurrency called ‘Barz,’” she says. “And health care workers will get a much needed break when half the population starts seeking medical advice from scarecrows instead of doctors.”

This all sounds good, Madam Oracle, but I have one more question.

“Yes,” she says. “About your book.”

Do I finish it? Finally?

She stares directly into my eyes with the piercing gaze of fate. “You &%!$ing better.” 

With that, the otter peeks into the room, tapping his tiny watch. Before I know it I’m on a bus headed back North. Will the Oracle’s predictions come true? Only time will tell.

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and co-hosts the podcast “Power in the Wilderness” on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022 edition of the Mesabi Tribune.




  1. Great story!

  2. Joe Hoover says

    “Everyone knows Death is a libertarian.” 🙂

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