Spring is in the air. Cooper and I leave a pear blossom paradise and hit the parched and dusty Llano Estacado trails by nine o’clock. Air temperatures already hover near 70° F. The sights and smells of the spring awakening on the prairie stir primeval instincts in Cooper. He makes exploratory dashes across the landscape, trying to roust any creature willing to partake in civilized games of pursuit. Numerous Pocket Gopher mounds and Black-tailed Prairie Dog burrows are particularly irresistible. He and the prairie dogs appear to have a mutually acceptable relationship. They bark at him. He stops to visit and then life goes on. I taught him early not to dig and destroy burrows. He is content to stick his nose into the opening, say hello, and take in the tantalizing scents of burrow life.
Cooper instinctively locates and follows game trails, which makes navigating the rough Llano Estacado landscape much easier for me. Today one of his trail blazing adventures leads us past an excavated prairie den. The shaft disappears into darkness at about a forty-five degree angle. It’s too small to accommodate a coyote. This may very well be one of the abodes of the Swift Fox I occasionally notice ducking and threading through prairie vegetation. They are about the size of a large house cat. In order to avoid predators these secretive creatures inhabit a dozen or more dens each year. I surmise my friend is long gone.
For a few moments my thoughts drift back to flowering pear trees in our back yard. But realities of the prairie underfoot renew their hold of my sensibilities.
As the Llano Estacado awakens some of the first critters to stir to life are harvester ants. With each passing day activity near nests increases. Entrances are ajar and the trash crews are busy making midden deposits of trash accumulated in the nests during winter months. Nearby remnants of a bleached Black-tailed Prairie Dog skeleton serve as a poignant reminder of the eternal circle of life.
We complete our outing with a pleasant visit of an equine pal. Cooper’s been best buds with this white horse ever since his days as a clumsy but curious 8-week old puppy. The friendship continues. A few nuzzles and kisses and Cooper reluctantly heads home.
As we amble towards our town neighborhood my thoughts return to the mortal remains of the prairie dog. I embrace the message. Take time to smell the roses my friends, for--to every thing there is a season.
© Ilija Lukić 2012
|Silvertip Fir And Pears|
|Ready For Spring Exploits|
|Swift Fox Trail (Cooper)|
|Hello lo lo o o o Down There (Cooper)|
|To Every Thing There Is A Season|
|Season Opener (Red Harvester Ants)|
|A Time To Die (prairie dog)|
|Equus Albus Quest (Cooper)|