Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Thursday, May 31, 2007


...and they're being born at the rate of about one per minute. This is one of my favorite annual events here in Salt Lake City, and I spent this morning watching it, which gives me a chance to recycle an excerpt from my book, in favor of writing something new:
...Life is the natural state of our planet, life unyielding. The punctuation we ride today is but another geological burp. For those of us with a deep love of nature, it’s hard not to feel like the world is going to hell in a jet-propelled handbasket, but earth’s biota will surely be rich and spectacular two million years from now, though I can’t feel the same optimism for the place in two centuries.
Pieces of nature will always find a way to squeeze, octopus-like through the cracks. I live in the Salt Lake Valley, where numerous creeks drain the surrounding mountains into a bowl-shaped still. As a growing metropolis confiscated the basin, these creeks have been contained in subterranean arteries. This morning I sat beside a 30-yard stretch of sun-exposed creek between culverts. For two weeks each May, Utah Suckers (Catostomus ardens) swim through miles of dark concrete tunnels to this spot, their spawning grounds. At the peak of the spawn the fish are stacked like sardines, all pointed upstream, more saddled backs visible than streambed. Each female is attended by two or three males, their gold and pink nuptial colors flashing through the surface as they position themselves to fertilize her eggs.
I imagine this spot seven centuries ago. The gym, the gas station and fast food joint are gone, only sage and rabbit brush claim their positions. The elms on the bank are replaced by native maples and cottonwoods. I imagine Fremont Indians making a pilgrimage each spring to exploit the piscine bounty. I feel compelled to return to the site each year myself, but it's a different kind of sustenance I receive... --from RIGOR VITAE: LIFE UNYIELDING by CPBvK ©2006 Eagle Mountain Publishing

photographs of Utah Suckers taken May 31, 2007 by CPBvK


Blogger Camera Trap Codger said...

Agreed! Freshwater fish migrations are one of the great spectacles of nature. Why aren't more school teachers taking kids on field trips to see it themselves. ("Yes, children, there ARE more species of freshwater fish than bass and trout.") Youtube can't do it justice.

2:23 PM  
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8:20 PM  

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