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On Prairie Dogs, Seeds, and Elusive Ideas

Cheryl's Musings: On Prairie Dogs, Seeds, and Elusive Ideas

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


On Prairie Dogs, Seeds, and Elusive Ideas

pd_headshotI was out early this morning, early enough that frost still shimmered on the ground and the air still had a bit of bite, even though it’s supposed to get up to 60F here today. It was also early enough that the prairie dogs hadn’t yet ventured out of their burrows. Can’t say I blame them. Even if they are all delightfully fat and fluffy in preparation for winter, who wants to scratch through frost and ice to find breakfast?

Most prairie dogs don’t hibernate, although they do something similar when the weather’s at its worst. On milder days, though, you can see them scurrying about and sitting up on their haunches to make sure you aren’t planning to run up and say “boo.” All this activity means they have to eat.

That got me thinking: what do prairie dogs eat for breakfast in the winter? In the summer, you can watch them nibble at all the greenery in the area. They like to keep it nicely trimmed so no coyotes can sneak up on them. In the winter, though, prairie dog towns revert to dry dirt and scattered leaves.

I noticed, this morning, that the earth around and between the burrows was marked with hundreds of little holes. They were all between three and five inches deep, maybe two inches across; they made the dirt look a bit like a playground sandbox.

What the heck was that about? And then it came to me: the prairie dogs were digging for seeds, sifting through the dirt for tiny morsels of nutrition.

This post is getting long, so here’s the point: It strikes me that, as writers, sometimes we feel like we’re in a barren place. Either we’re at a loss for words or ideas, or we feel too tired or drained to put pen to paper; but I think we’re kind of like those prairie dogs. It might look like we’re sitting in the midst of nothing, but if we dig, if we search patiently, we’ll discover the tiny grains of meaning hidden in our everyday experience.

Happy writing—or digging. Whichever seems right.

:) Cheryl



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