Two colorful banana spiders have replaced my spider-friend, and even though they may be her offspring, I just don’t have the same relationship with them. I suppose it’s because they’re not my first. Too, they have not yet taught me anything more fascinating about their spider ways. Yet. I’ll keep watching.
It’s Sunday morning, and Doug and Bob have safely docked at the International Space Station. Here, on this small rock in the Pacific, the birds are awake and cheering. A single Japanese white-eye lets out a stream of linked sounds as long as a Brian Doyle sentence. A White-rumped shama adds the lyricism of Barry Lopez. And an adolescent Northern cardinal throws in the minimalism of Pam Houston. All writers I admire.
I have a pair of binoculars and my Big Girl Camera with a long lens attached at my feet, alongside Lulu, who comes and goes, alternating sun and shade.
Nearer, a green anole peaks his lime green head around a post and fans his reddish-orange dewlap. Inside, because it’s Sunday, Eric makes waffles. Today’s batch comes courtesy of my friend Sherilyn who gifted us with a ube mochi waffle mix. That is, a sweet potato flavored waffle made from sweet rice flour. They’re delicious—crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Today, I read an essay by Paul Gruchow published in 1995. That’s twenty-five years ago. Why is it the essay feels pertinent today? And it’s not just because Gruchow lived in Minnesota.
The title of the essay is “What the Prairie Teaches Us.” Supporting biological diversity, the third paragraph reads,
“Diversity makes the prairie resilient. One hundred acres of prairie may support three thousand species of insects alone, each of them poised to exploit – often beneficially – certain plants, microclimates, soils, weather conditions, and seasons. This exuberance equips the prairie to make the most of every opportunity, to meet every natural contingency. The prairie teaches us to see our own living arrangements as stingy and to understand that this miserliness is why they so frequently fall short of our expectations.”
Gruchow may be writing about an ecosystem, the prairie, but I read the prairie as a metaphor for people–us, the human race.
“The prairie is a community. It is not just a landscape or the name of an area on a map, but a dynamic alliance of living plants, animals, birds, insects, reptiles, and microorganisms, all depending upon each other. When too few of them remain, their community loses vitality and they perish together. The prairie teaches us that our strength is in our neighbors. The way to destroy a prairie is to cut it up into tiny pieces, spaced so that they have no communication.”
He goes on to enumerate the many ways the prairie is strong—patient, tolerant and has an ability to turn adversity into advantage.
He concludes with:
“The prairie is bountifully utilitarian. But it is lovely too, in a hundred thousand ways and in a million details, many of them so finely wrought that one must drop to one’s knees to appreciate them. This is what, over all else, the prairie teaches us: there need be no contradiction between utility and beauty.”
I know he’s extolling the virtues of the prairie, and I agree with them all. I celebrate the prairie and the many other different ecosystems on earth. But, today, I read his words as a metaphor. There are a hundred thousand ways we as people are different and in the millions of details that make each of us unique, we must drop to our knees in nothing but reverence and gratitude and awe for our differences. We must respect everyone.
“Waffle’s ready,” Eric calls from inside.
One new case in Hawaii, for a COVID-19 total of 652. Note, today in the state of Minnesota, there were 664 new cases.