"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Prairie Dog Rapture

As writers, we need to pay attention to the world around us. To write authentically, we must develop a sense-of-place. In this distracted world it is easy to forget to watch and see what is happening under our eyes. It is easy to miss the sunrise and sunset. It is easy to forget the moon overhead and the stranger across the street and the mass extermination of an entire people going on in Africa. It takes much consideration to develop a global sense of place.

In the rush of modern life in a preoccupied world, we forget to pay attention to the little things that are really quite remarkable. And, so, to the point of this post. Each morning, as the sun rises, prairie dogs leave their home burrows and stand with their palms together and face the sun for twenty to thirty minutes. Then they go about their day. Towards sunset they return to their home burrows and again stand motionless with their palms together and face the setting sun. What do they know that we have forgotten?

Prairie dog colonies are systematically being exterminated. From the hundreds of square miles they occupied before we advanced west, they inhabit a mere nine at present(via an NPR report from Bryce Canyon on 4/3/10). They are considered vermin and of no use to us. I’m wondering if there is a lesson we could learn from them before they are gone forever. I wonder that there isn't room for us and them on planet Earth. They who would dance to the rising sun.

22 comments:

She Writes said...

I love the final lines here! Perfect picture too.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I didn't know that prairie dogs did that. Many tribal peoples celebrated the sun, acknowledged its import. We'll never know if prairie dogs have that kind of intelligence or if they just turn intuitively to the source of light and heat, but I love to learn that they do. We should all dance to the rising sun. Thank you.

sarahjayne smythe said...

Great post. So very true that we should probably pay attention.

Talli Roland said...

Brilliant photo and reminder to us to pay attention to what we're doing to nature. I didn't know prairie dogs were near extinction. That's terrible.

Liza said...

Thank you for teaching me something new and lovely today.

Jemi Fraser said...

Very cool photo and info :) I hate when humans mess up the food webs and the rest of the creatures that inhabit this world.

Wendy aka Quillfeather. said...

Fascinating little creatures.

I personally believe the human race is vermin and should be exterminated - well, some of them anyway.

How dare we decide what should live or die. We were all put here on this planet. To live and breath is the right of every living creature. Big or small.

Good post.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Wow. There is something so powerful about the image of prairie dogs standing, hands raised to adore the rising and setting sun.

And you pose such a great question - how is there not room on this earth for a species that worships nature so much?

There's a story in there. Grab that metaphor and run with it!

TK Richardson said...

I think there is something to be learned from all of our furry friends. There is a reason and purpose for all things under Heaven. It's not up to us to determine their importance. We did not create them.

Love your post and the pictures. :)

Yvonne Osborne said...

Amy,
Thanks a bunch!

Tricia,
I found this a remarkable thing. I think the fact that they face the rising and the setting sun in the same manner indicates it's more than a turning to the source of light and heat. Don't you? Thanks!

Sarahjayne,
Thank you very much!

Talli,
Thanks. Yes, sad isn't it?

Liza,
Thanks for commenting. I'm so glad you liked it.

Jemi,
Thanks. We mess up a lot don't we? We just keep plodding along with our big heavy feet. Plod Plod Plod...

Wendy,
I think a lot of us share that sentiment. When I was doing a little research I got this popup ad by some outfit in Texas for hunting praire dogs. Thanks for commenting and sharing your view.

Suzanne,
Thanks!! You're right. There has to be a story here, or at least a poem. Maybe a haiku.... now you have me thinking!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi TK!
You slipped in on me. I'm happy to see you back and appreciate you stopping and commenting here. Thanks so much!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Wow, I realize I know absolutely nothing about prairie dogs. I hadn't realized they were so beautiful, or that they were being killed off. How very sad.

But you are so right. How easy it is to miss--and dismiss--the little things.

Wine and Words said...

Oh my gosh. How adorable. I don't know if I've even seen a prairie dog, and certainly not in worship. I believe everything has something to teach, and everyone has something to learn. Thank you for today's lesson. May I be teachable every day.

Travener said...

I think those are Chinese prairie dogs in the picture because they're obviously doing tai chi.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Carol,
Thank you. Well, I think they get in the way.

Wine and Words,
(I just love your handle...the two play off each other so well) Yes, the besieged little prairie dog is pretty amazing in its own modest way. Thanks!

Trav,
You gave me my first smile of the morning. Which I needed after realizing I misspelled the title of my post and a couple of other errors too in my haste which I then proceed to rail against. Ouch.

Al said...

Exterminating native species anywhere is a tragedy.

One thing we have got almost right here in Oz is that almost all native animals (and plants) are protected.
Generally the only exceptions are a few species of kangaroo and some birds whose populations have exploded due to changes we have made to the environment.
That being said we have, in our bit over 200 years of European settlement, driven dozens of creatures to extinction through loss of habitat and the introduction of pest species such as cats, foxes, rabbits, horses... and the list goes on.

By the way I loved your comment on my blog. So true, this world wide community can be an amazing thing.
Now as you wake up, I will say goodnight!

Paul C said...

I grew up on a farm where we had a three acre boggy area alive with muskrats, pheasants, groundhogs. Today this land has been drained and stripped of its natural vegetation. What a shame. It's happened all over for the cause of profit and efficiency.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Al,
I love connecting with people like you from around the world. It's interesting that animals when wrongly introduced are considered pests i.e. cats, horses, etc. Though the exploding cat population is a serious problem here, as are deer. Sometimes it feels as though we never get it right.

Thanks for commenting!!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Paul,
It's criminal is what it is. Bogs and wetlands have been drained and ruined everywhere for the sake of almighty development, developers who have no shame or understanding of what they've done. All they can do is name their gated communities after that which is no longer there...Flowing Creek, Marsh Flats, Green Meadows, blah blah blah. And once farmland and marshlands are developed, paved, tiled and whatever, they can never be reclaimed. As Joni Mitchell once sang, "we paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Thank you.

Alexandra Crocodile said...

I had no idea about prairie dogs facing the sun - but then again i don't know much about them at all, i don't think they exist in europe:)

as writers, we have a responsibility to make a point about what we care about. famous writers reach out to millions, imagine what they could do if they wanted!

ps. i just found your blog, and i really like the combo writer + green! i'm going to follow you:)

Yvonne Osborne said...

Alexandra,
Hello. I'm very happy to have you here. (Dancing!!) I agree with you, we have a responsibility to write about what matters to us the most. I'm glad you like my writing/enviro.combo. It's who I am so I'm pleased it works.

Thanks for joining my blog!

Menina said...

I didnt know this! It's truly amazing.

I agree with you. Sometimes it's nice to look up, glance around at minor details. Notice a design on a building.