The Gateway Ghosts of Flagstaff, Arizona
by Mary Sojourner
They worked for free. No budget allocation necessary, no bids for building and installing, no $28,714.99 chunk out of the City budget, no steel, no rock columns, no treated log. Unlike the gateway sign recently approved for 89N’s entrance into Flagstaff, the bad girls and tricky boys of the early Nineties went on about their daily business voluntarily, which had much less to do with welcoming tourists to our town, and everything to do with survival — and what, to my human eyes, seemed to be fun.
They — the teasing females and wily males — were the ever-alert, ever-busy members of a prairie dog colony that once occupied the center of a little traffic circle on which a faux-classy motel and a pseudo-Mex fast food joint now squat. I was one of many lucky humans who watched them — and blessed the red light that often stopped us near their home, and the rare Friday late afternoon traffic jam that would let us sit through two changes of red to green, long enough to begin to see the differences between the individual dogs — the chunky one who was always scrounging food, the two young pups who seemed to chase each other from dawn to dusk. I lived in a trailer in Kachina, worked in town, ran errands on a daily basis. Over time, over seasons, the prairie dogs reminded me to slow down, pay attention, to get my head out of my too human reveries and resentments. (more…)