High in Colorado
Michael Scherer: http://www.whymichaelscherersucksthisweek.com

Three Miles East of East Inlet Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park

A dialogue:

Two hundred feet of vertical will get you to where there is almost nobody in any American national park. So what is this chipmunk doing chittering at us from the creekbed?

Shoo! Shoo!

Why are you doing that?

It's not good for it to be dependent on humans for food. It needs to associate humans with unpleasant sensations and danger. Shoo! Shoo!

You know the telos of a chipmunk?

It's not like there are a lot of people up here. We haven't seen anyone for a mile and a half.

It's not as though the meadow is overrun with chipmunks, distorting the ecology...

Its life is nasty, British, and short enough even with occasional granola crumbs...


Blame the iPhone's autocomplete feature for that one.

Then how did it learn to beg?

Al Gore.

What did you say?

Al Gore. It's one of Al Gore's creatures. It's one of Al Gore's lieutenants, who wander the earth tirelessly spreading the good news of environmentalism.

The altitude has gotten to you.

No it hasn't! People go to national parks. They see a cute chipmunk. They engage in a gift-exchange relationship with it. They feel happy. They feel interdependent with other humans and with the planet. They vote for Al Gore-approved candidates. We protect the environment. The world goes to its happy place.

But anyone who makes it up here is already a believer...

So you are proposing an alternative telos for the chipmunk?

Yes. As a neuron in the universe's coming to self-consciousness.

But we didn't feed it, and now it's gone...

I still want to know how it learned to beg. Its life is short. This trail is snowed-in until May, and the snow falls again in October. This is 10000 feet, after all...

There it is again...