Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Sad Day

Yesterday was grey and rainy and blustery and, overall, icky.  (So much for embracing the weather, whatever it is!)  The day ended in over 3 hours of school board meeting, on the way to which I came across this guy.  A vole, who was alive but not doing at all well.  I couldn't tell why, he had no apparent injuries.  He was breathing.  But he was just laying there, waiting, I guess, to die.  How sad, to make it through the cold winter and then kick it just as spring makes its entrance.  Yesterday was cold, but I can't imagine it was cold enough to do in a vole, so I have no idea what ailed him.  And I thought about putting him out of his misery but couldn't do it because I wanted him to make a miraculous recovery, or at least make some hawk very happy. 

I love voles.  I know that sounds like an odd thing to say, but I really do.  They are the unglorified base of the prairie food chain.  Thousands of them, even in very small prairies, live hidden from view, providing food for owls and hawks, coyotes and foxes.  They tunnel, but not underground.  In the winter, they live in the subnivean zone, insulated by the snow.  You can see their chimneys and exit holes all over.  A lot of people don't even care, they're so common, but I love seeing them.  Knowing they're there and safe.  (Or, people think you really meant to say mole, which is a totally different creature...and go totally unaware of the voles all around them, totally distinct from house mice.)  

In the warmer months of the year, they tunnel under the matted grasses.  They have kitchens, where they cache and eat their seeds.  They have bathrooms, where they, well... duh.  They have bedrooms where they sleep in their family groups.  Under-appreciated and disorganized in their messy way.  

So I thank this one and I mourn him (while I hope against hope that he made it OK).  

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