When we feed worms to our “pet” trout Joey, who lives out back in Prospect Creek; when I take my girls to the Town Park for a softball game and it feels like we’ve walked into a great outdoor living room; and each morning, when I open the curtains of their bedroom and the white-capped skyline of Palmyra Peak framed by a blue Colorado sky is the first thing their clear eyes capture. It’s times like these that give me pause, helping me to shrug off the weight of the day’s stresses while offering a little perspective.
Because sometimes it seems to be our nature to get caught up in the gritty minutia of daily living. We don’t blur our eyes enough to life’s small imperfections, choosing instead to zero in on that pimple cropping up on the chin instead of appreciating the whole picture reflected in the mirror.
I was reminded once again of the truly fantastical nature of life here in Telluride last week, as I read a litany of commentary in our daily newspaper relating to what seems to be the most pressing problem facing this small mountain hamlet: prairie dogs.
Sure, our communities face significant budgetary shortfalls, years of delayed capital improvements stacking up like unwieldy to-do lists, not to mention the wider picture of our place, albeit small, in a nation consumed by debt and handcuffed by a dependence on war and oil. Last week, a newcomer unacquainted to the fabled nature of crises in a place like Telluride would have read the newspaper and thought that this quaint little valley was actually an epicenter of rodent-provoked calamity.
What is a wide-eyed resident of this beautiful place to do, when faced with such a moral-warping mess? Those twitchy little brown creatures have been given free-reign to do what they will with the Valley Floor, a.k.a. our multi, multi-million dollar backyard. This has incited a fracas between two distinct factions within the community: The prairie dog lovers and the prairie dog haters.
The lovers are not merely enamored with the furry creatures, who by their own right are a socially complex and fascinating species; the little buggers are rare, it turns out, and so deserve the protection of a cosseted place on the Valley Floor in which to raise happy broods of little prairie pups.
The haters, meanwhile, do not see cute when the flea-ridden critters’ eyesore colonies spring up like a bad case of acne across the once-unblemished Valley Floor. In their estimation, the only good prairie dog is a squished one on the side of the Spur (or one tempted by the bubble gum death-trick).
Oh, the quandary.
The prairie dog conundrum presents yet another example of how lucky we all are to be raising our kids in a place like Telluride.
It’s a storybook life, complete with fantasy problems.