Know It Like a Native

It's dry here at the moment, really dry. While the East Coast gets hit by a bomb cyclone and record cold, here in Colorado we are having day after day of warm sunny weather. I've always preferred the sun, but the ski areas are hating it, and the plants are hunkered down, holding onto every molecule of moisture as long as they can. Should I worry that this year will be the one that causes the pinyons to die, the sagebrush to dry up, the deer to leave? Although I'm not a native, I've been here long enough to know that droughts happen. Watching and working here, I've learned that most of the plants are tough, the animals are resourceful and adapted, and that the weakest will die. It's not the good years that shape the living landscape here, it's the hard times. And if moisture and cold don't come this landscape will change; it's just a question of how many warm, dry winters things can tolerate.

So few of us are natives to the places we live any more. But that doesn't mean we can't learn to know our new places intimately. We can find out about their past, be perceptive to what's going on around us in the present, and predict their future. The information is out there, we just need to care... like a native would.

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