Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day/Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

A few mornings ago, I awoke stumbling out of a dream--caught in the vortex of my subconscious, it felt like forever before I could open my eyes. There was an enormous orange moon that turned out not to be a moon at all, but some kind of balloon-like satellite. This not-moon had fallen from the sky and came to rest on the street. The Someone was there, pointing out a small control box attached to the edge of the glowing sphere. And there were antelope. As the antelope bounded by--paying no heed to the fallen moon--their legs seemingly spring-loaded, I reminded the Someone of the backpacking trip where we'd seen a herd of them. Back in those pre-Wikipedia days, there were inexpensive guidebooks and pamphlets often purchased by hikers and day-walkers who wanted to learn the names of those wild things they might encounter on the trail. The backpacking trip I mentioned in the dream was a real life backpacking trip, and  I'll bet there's a booklet still on the shelf in the study in the house where I no longer reside, a check mark next to the picture of the animal who, it turns out, is not actually an antelope at all.

Yesterday, my mom pointed out an article which seems to have disappeared from the electronic version of my L.A. Times. I did, however, find THIS.  I was stunned to read that the pronghorn is critically endangered. Only fifty left in the wild? Today I dropped into a sort of Earth Day rabbit hole. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. While I often delighted in watching old movies with my kids and saying things like, "Look, oh my god, look, that's a typewriter," or "See that? It's a telephone with a dial! That's why we say dial tone," I don't ever want to say that I saw an entire herd of pronghorn in 1979, and that no one will ever see them in the wilderness again.

After  an hour with my iPad in the dentist's office waiting room while my mom had some work done, I'm happy to report that the peninsular pronghorn mentioned in the above link, is not the only sub-species of pronghorn on the planet Earth. The type I came across somewhere in the Sierra, seems to be managing--though my heart sunk a bit at THIS. I am not anti-hunting, but my brain did another trip back to the 70s when the Someone and I sat at the newly installed computers circa 1974 (could this be?--or am I conflating college with law school?) playing a game where the object was to properly manage the bison herd of  a by-gone era. We wiped them out. Inadvertently. Best intensions and all that, but oops! No more bison.

So, while I have no idea why I am still dreaming of the Someone occasionally, or why I dreamed of antelope, Happy Earth Day. The pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in the western hemisphere and also has the longest land mammal migratory route. Seen in the wilderness, they will take a backpacker's breath away, the white stripes across their throats streaking through the dappled light like no Nike swoosh has ever done. Your body will throb with adrenaline to be in the presence of so many wild animals at once. Your brain will grapple with their vertical springing vis a vis the swiftness at which they pass you by. Then you'll stand there stunned at what you've seen, the pronghorns long gone.

Photo Credit:


Ms. Moon said...

This is what I think- that as we allow species to disappear, we are made shadows of ourselves as humans.

Elizabeth said...

Wow. This is one hell of a blog post.

You need to read Wendell Berry's "The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer."