Monday, March 23, 2015

Prequel to a Prairie Dog

It seems to be the trend among the most fashionable people today to tell a story and then to make a sequel, which is supposed to encapsulate the events that led up to the story.  The story already had a beginning, as all stories do, but this sequel, commonly known as a prequel, is the story of how the beginning began; it is a chronicle of events leading to the beginning.  It is the pre-beginning.  I wrote my prequel years ago, thinking that it was a story unto itself, not realizing it was just the beginning of a story that would encompass several years.  In kindness, I will not tell the story and then ask you to go back in your minds to a time before the events that happened in the story had begun to begin.  I will instead make it easy on you and begin with the prequel.  Here it is, reprinted from many moons ago, in a different time and a different place:

I've become completely fascinated with prairie dogs. In all my research, the most entertaining and helpful article I've read is The Friendly Nuisance by Dorothy and Lewis Nordyke. It is just one of many zoological articles collected in Marvels and Mysteries of our Animal World, published by Reader's Digest, 1964. It begins, "The sociable little prairie dog who has burrowed deep into the heart and folklore of western America has had as rough a battle for survival as any sod-busting homesteader on the wild frontier. The prairie dog is found only in lonely country, but there is nothing he like so well as conveniently close neighbors of his kind. He enjoys a highly developed community life, living gregariously in a craftily engineered colony of burrows and mounds known as a town." Being myself more similar to the prairie dog's cousin, the city squirrel, I nevertheless thoroughly enjoy the company of prairie dogs. We city animals can learn a lot from our country cousins, with their different ways of thinking and living. If we would stop long enough to get to know them and see past the differences in our fur and the size and bushiness of our tails, we'd be so much the richer for it. Not only will we benefit socially from getting to know our cousins, we will also be safer, as "there are always sentries standing at rigid attention with their eyes alternately roving the sky and the ground. At the sight or sound of anything unusual, the sentries yap out warnings." I believe I have seen some of these sentries, and the most prepared among them are even armed.  

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