Can intelligent life exist in the absence of trees?

Many many years ago while explaining his intention to move to more tropical climes than our native Michigan, Big Brother said, “Intelligent life can’t exist below the freezing point of water.” I’ve never entirely agreed: I personally believe it can, but perhaps it would rationally choose not to.

But this morning while randomly surfing around waiting for the coffee to kick in, I came upon a picture that reminded me of something suggesting that maybe the presence of liquid water isn’t the only criterion for Intelligent Life habitat…

I spent my youth on or east of I-75, so I was used to having trees and water around. It might be frozen water and leafless trees sometimes, but still. Trees and water.

When I was a young man, circumstance drove me west. I went to trade school in Oklahoma, which seemed to me to be pretty darned West: There were cattle ranches and Indians and bowlegged illiterate guys with Skoal cans and goat-roper hats. Little did I know.

For my sins, a post-school employment opportunity landed me in the Texas panhandle. Imagine pulling back a motel room curtain one bright Sunday morning and finding yourself on the set of High Plains Drifter.

I used to joke that the only good thing about it was that you could tell what next week’s weather would be just by looking out at the horizon. With time I grew to love it – it turns out I’m just that kind of guy – but even after all these years I do recall what a shock it was at first.

And it turns out that the people who lived there, among all their other – many – traits that would twist a SJW’s knickers, were absolutely addicted to fireworks, and the sparkier the better. Since the entire landscape consisted of dry grass and tumbleweed, a less appropriate pastime cannot be imagined. And on the evening of my first July 4 in the Panhandle…

Grass Fire, Vegetation Fire, Flames, Wildfire, Generic
I looked out the back window of my trailer (yes) and to my untrained eye it appeared that some idiot had set the whole rodeo ground on fire.

It turns out that July 4 is always a big night for the local fire departments of the Texas panhandle. It’s just sort of a … thing there.

Funny, what memories a simple random picture can bring back. 🙂 I kind of got into bottle rockets myself, back then. And yes, I’ve stomped out my share of infant grassfires.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to Can intelligent life exist in the absence of trees?

  1. Kentucky says:

    Brings up a question: with which foot do you stomp out grass fires, meat or metal?

  2. Joel says:

    Excellent question. It depends on the fire.

  3. I’m in the Texas panhandle– although if I walk west for 5 minutes I’m in New Mexico.
    Fortunately. most of the grass fires happen east of me where enough rain falls to grow stuff that can later dry out and become flammable. Most years we escape that fate.

    And we do have trees, but every tree you see has been planted by human hands- or is the direct offspring of such a tree. You can tell where a farmhouse stood years ago by the clump of trees surrounding nothing.

    Most of the trees here used to be horrible, diseased Siberian elms (which people call Chinese elms- an insult to the superior Chinese trees). But a lot of them have died or fallen apart to the point that they’ve been cut down and replaced with other trees that can struggle to survive here.

    But I’ll leave it to others to decide if intelligent life exists here. If so, maybe it’s propped up with ugly, diseased, and dying Siberian elms.

  4. Judy says:

    Yes, intelligent life exists in a treeless environment because it is unforgiving (no place to hide). Stupidity dies out pretty quickly. It also produces a warped sense of humor when you can see death coming in an EF-5 tornado on the horizon and it misses you by just that much.

  5. Jerry says:

    Took a tour of some dairies in the panhandle back in 2012. It became obvious that everyone above grunt worker status was “from somewhere else.” The young vet from Georgia said he had been promised there was a beautiful girl behind every tree. Then you get 2 groups of laughter, immediate from the people who already noticed there are no trees, then from the slow ones who go “By golly,You’re right, there ARE no trees.”

  6. Joel says:

    There is in fact a beautiful girl behind every tree in the panhandle. They’re both married, though.

  7. My husband is from the Panhandle. When he first took me there to meet family and friends, the “scenery” left me really depressed and I told him that if he ever made me go back there I’d divorce him. When his Dad died and it was necessary to go back(I agreed it was necessary) I had to go to the doc and get anti-anxiety pills. I did find out that my initial visit was during a prolonged drought and things did green up when the drought finished and it really wasn’t so terrible under normal conditions. But I wouldn’t want to live there. Love me these mountains of Colorado.

To the stake with the heretic!