Saturday, January 05, 2008

Dead space

Window washer falls 47 floors
but survives. His wife insists
he find another line of work.

Dead space. No, I'm not talking about the space between the ears of George W. Bush. I'm reflecting on something that has been bothering me for some time now. We have been making quite a lot of trips from Bonners Ferry to Seattle and back. From about 20 miles west of Spokane all the way to approximately Ellensberg, there are more than a hundred miles of what appears to be entirely dead space. That is, you can drive all those miles repeatedly and never see a living creature, aside from an ocasional bird. I mean nothing alive. You don't even see any dead live things. No road kill. Nothing in the way of animal life. I don't recall that it has always been so. I seem to remember from many years ago when I occasionally drove that route there were always animals of some kind: rabbits, coyotes, snakes, mice, lizards, and such things. What has happened to them? I swear you can drive this route repeatedly and never see anything alive, or even dead. Nothing. I find it quite amazing. How is it that such a huge area seems to have been rendered entirely sterile, absent of life forms that used to be there? I don't know the answer to this. Perhaps my memory is faulty and it was always so. But I don't think so. Have we managed to poison and/or trap all the coyotes and other creatures that were once there?

Then, ironically, driving west, just before you get to Vantage, Washington, there is a Memorial to Wild Horses. If you look to the left up on one of the ridge tops there is a herd of sculptured metal wild horses clearly visible against the sky. I'm all for art, and I understand the sentiment, but at the same time it always fills me with an ineffable sadness. Why do we have to have fake wild horses? Why couldn't there be real wild horses? There seem to be thousands upon thousands of acres that must have once supported such creatures, along with many other species. Are we to just be satisfied with fake creatures from now on? We could have artistic renditions of the pygmy rabbit, for example, as they are on the verge of extinction. And coyotes, we could have replicas of coyotes, perhaps even desert tortoises, along with fake rattlesnakes and desert mice. A whole world of fake animals to replace those we seem to have decimated. A whole artificial world to complete the one we already live in.

"I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved, which a cow enjoys on giving milk."
H. L. Mencken

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