By Dana Delgado
BERTRAM — There was plenty of drama at Bertram City Hall Feb. 1, but it wasn’t in City Council Chamber.
The spectacle was just outside in the parking area where some hearty souls amidst a bevy of media types had gathered under overcast skies and mild temperatures to witness Bertram’s annual “Donkey Day,” a spoof on Groundhog Day.
At precisely 12:30 p.m., Bertram Mayor Dickie Allen, wearing a black derby hat, read the official proclamation declaring Feb. 1 “Donkey Day.”
Mayor Allen declared that since “Bertram and its surrounds has no mammals known as groundhogs” and since “the City finds that a shadow cast in the north is meaningless to our city,” local mammal and esteemed prognosticator, Pawnee from the Frontier Miniature Donkeys in Oatmeal, had been selected to “accurately predict our future weather by choosing his food of choice.”
Without a drum roll, buckets of oats, sweet feed and water were placed in front of Pawnee. The selection of oats would mean an early spring while sweet feed would signal six more weeks of winter. A sip of water would indicate bountiful spring showers.
With cameras snapping, Pawnee, without hesitation, turned his snout toward the oats and immediately began eating indicating an early spring to the delight of onlookers weary of winter’s unmerciful blasts.
Before anyone could celebrate the donkey’s choice, however, Pawnee abruptly changed to the adjacent bucket where he heartily started munching on sweet feed much to the dismay of watchers, many of whom cried “oh no!”
Pawnee switched back again and then again — at least five times.
Perplexed, Mayor Allen and Ken Odiorne, the official forecast interpreter, looked at each other on every change the donkey made. It was hard to determine who was more dumbfounded. Odiorne appeared to be tempted to take his hat off and scratch his head to make some sense of it all.
Likewise, confused observers began to wonder what Pawnee’s actions meant as the donkey wavered between one bucket and the other.
Odiorne leaned in to get a better look so he could accurately assess the donkey’s actions.
Meanwhile, Patsy Oertli, Pawnee’s owner who was tending her beloved miniature, even tried to dissuade Pawnee from eating more sweet feed by moving that bucket a few feet away. Undeterred, Pawnee followed her until the bucket of sweet feed was completely empty, but the donkey wasn’t finished.
To the surprise of everyone, the donkey backed up and dived into the oats bucket, which was quickly emptied, too.
“What does it all mean,” someone yelled out. “What’s the forecast?”
Odiorne, sporting a nifty black top hat, paused for a moment as he gazed at Pawnee, the Mayor, the onlookers, and then slowly glanced up at the skies.
“It’s a mixed forecast,” he said. “We’re going to have a little of this and a little of that, but not just one or the other. Expect it to be changing.”
This prognostication may be one for the ages, but with an accuracy of 70 percent. It appears Pawnee may have forecast some rollercoaster weather for us. Hold on!