Friday, November 18, 2011

Another Day on Planet Earth

I did not have to go to the cube farm yesterday because I was "on vacation". Instead, I went to see about a horse. He was a nice looking bay horse, rather a gentle spirit - with wings on his feet. When he was led back in his pasture to the rest of his herd, one of the horses came over and kicked him, in slow motion. The slow kick was in deference to their human benefactor being right there among them. None of the horses wanted to harm her. The kick may have been because the bay was enjoying the carrots I had brought for him right in front of the rest of the herd. Jealousy afflicts all flesh, it seems.

When I got home, Duke and I decided to go down to the creek. I had not been down to the water for a long time. I was expecting it to be almost dry but it was still flowing. In some places it is a mere trickle over the rocks. In the deep clear pools, the little fish were plentiful. I have never been able to identify the fish that live in Spirit Creek. They could be Topeka Minnows, an endangered species found only in the tall grass streams of the Flint Hills. They are probably nothing as rare as that. There are only three kinds of fish that live in the creek here. The most numerous fish look like silver minnows of some sort. In the years when there is a lot of water in the creek, a few will grow to about ten inches long. There is a slightly different type of fish, far fewer in numbers, that seem to be full grown at a couple of inches in length. The most rare fish of all is some sort of little spotted bottom feeder that looks a bit prehistoric. I have to spend a lot of time beside the water to spot one of those as there are so few of them.

It was wonderful to be walking the creek again. In the years I have lived here, the banks have grown into a jungle of brush and vines so it is not easy to get down to the water's edge. To see the little creek in its normal state - a quiet crystal clear stream - you would never guess how quickly it will rise in a heavy rain, nor how loud and violent its rushing waters blasting between the banks can be. There are always trees precariously hanging on the banks, in danger of being washed away in the next big deluge. The banks change continually, in elevation and in appearance. What does not change is the limestone rocks scrubbed white by the rushing water, and the sand full of Permian Sea fossils.

It takes no effort to find the fossils in the soft sand of the creek bed. My favorites are the little clams. It is easy to find perfectly shaped ones and yesterday I found one that was fossilized white instead of the usual charcoal gray. I also found a turkey feather. Duke enjoys snuffling around, checking to smell who has been by. There were raccoon tracks in the soft mud but no other animal tracks I could see.

It was simply a great day on planet earth.

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