Patti and Woody Spend the Day Together
A Short Story by Nancy Schön, to go along with her public sculpture, Friendship.
The sun, a hug ball of red, was just rising along the prairieís horizon. Patti was slowly stretching, after a long nightís sleep. She lived in a coterie with her mother and father and several other siblings. Her best friend, Woody, had gotten up a few minutes before, calling down to ask her to crawl up to the top of the burrow to join him. As she came into the sunlight, she greeted him by starting to clean his teeth. This adorable act looked just like they were kissing. What they were really doing was grooming each other. This was also a way of smelling each other, making sure they were from a friendly coterie. Since they were , they continued to groom each other, showing their love.
It was breakfast time and they were hungry. Off they scampered, to find something to eat. Patti discovered some delicious grasshoppers. Woody found some luscious beetles hiding in the grass. They continued eating until they were stuffed. They knew that after they had eaten their fill, their chore, that day, was to find their favorite seeds and roots to bring back to the coterie food storage chamber. Their burrow, being very large and sophisticated, had many different compartments besides the food storage compartment. There was the storm cellar, a guest room, several bedrooms,a toilet area,( which once full would be sealed off)a hibernating chamber, a nursery, a nesting chamber, a listening post, and an escape hatch.
Sometimes a farmer would find Patti and Woody eating alfalfa or corn in their fields and he would run after them, shouting at them to stop eating his crops. Cattlemen didnít like them either, as they dug big holes at the top of their burrows and unwitting cattle would step into the hole and break a leg. However, some farmers really did like them as they ate plants ,keeping the growth at a good height. It was also good for prairie dogs,so they could watch for approaching predators.
It was Spring and the flowers and plants were sprouting everywhere. Spring is the time that prairie dog babies are born and Patti and Woody knew that several of their older cousins were going to have babies. Prairie dogs are mammals, hence they are warm blooded and their mothers nurse their young. Mothers teach them how to find food and fathers groom them, teaching them how to protect themselves and be safe.
All of a sudden Patti and Woody heard Will, the sentinel who guarded the listening post at the entrance to the burrow start barking loudly. Prairie dogs are called dogs because their call sounds just like the bark of the dog. Will continued barking and barking to tell the members of the coterie that 6 new babies had been born. Groups of prairie dogs appeared from their various coteries to celebrate the new births. They hugged, patted and pushed each other, chasing one an other around the opening of the burrow. It was time for a big celebration!
Patti and Woody were well known for singing, each having beautiful voices . They belted out their special state song, accompanied by the entire dog town:
Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain,
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin' lazy circles in the sky.
We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say--Yeeow! A-yip-i-o-ee ay!
We're only sayin' You're doin' fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma--O.K.
And so the day ended, as the sun, again ,a huge red ball disappeared slowly behind the trees. It was time for bed. Patti and Woody dropped into a deep sleep, dreaming happy dreams about the happy day they had spent together.