The rain today did not feel like a passing summer shower. It felt like summer’s end.
Besides the rain, many smaller changes have become evident this weekend. As the temperature dipped, the mountains shrouded themselves in chilly fog and gray drizzle. The larches are abandoning their greenish hue in favor of warmer tones. The bucks that inhabit the woods around the sanctuary are showing off their new antlers, while this spring’s fawns are losing their spots and grow more independent by the day. The tourists in nearby Roslyn are sporting flannels and hoodies, not sunglasses and flip flops (and our staff and volunteers had to say a sad goodbye to this year’s edition of the Roslyn Farmer’s Market). In neighboring Ellensburg, new students are flocking to campus to begin classes next week; a handful of them will compose our next cohort of interns starting at the end of this month. The air itself seems to call for coffeehouse folk music and pumpkin spice everything. Autumn has made its first appearance of its three-month residency.
Meanwhile, the chimps are embracing the cooler surroundings in their own way.
Jamie spent this morning huddled under a makeshift tent of blankets, taking in the crisp morning air and watching the caregivers go about their morning rounds. She even snoozed for a bit before breakfast (as did Annie, in the background).
Over in the new wing, things went similarly. Lately, the new three have been chilling out in the new archway tunnel almost constantly. However, today’s weather made the uncovered chute less appealing and the trio spent more time grooming and nesting in their sheltered indoor spaces. From her secluded corner in one of the bedrooms, Mave made sure to keep looking out the window at the surrounding pastures, passing rail cars and two-lane highway far below.
Because of the drizzle and dew, we only scattered a small portion of their lunch on Young’s Hill. Even so, the seven long-term residents made the best of the conditions and found all of the carrots and walnuts that Level II volunteer Dusty placed among the tall grass and wooden structures. Of all the chimpanzees, Annie seemed to enjoy foraging in the damp prairie grass, always watching her surroundings for potential competitors and new opportunities to obtain more food.
Today’s only drama was centered around corn. Erin and Miranda, two of our dedicated Level III volunteers, served breakfast and lunch, respectively. All went smoothly until Jamie decided to get upset every time one of the lower-ranking females received an ear of corn-on-the-cob. Either she was being possessive (likely) or she’s terrified of things on cobs (slightly less likely). She kept her eyes on everyone else while she munched on her own corn, as well as poor Foxie’s.
Annie, Foxie, and Missy all processed their remaining corn and potatoes with trepidation, frequently pausing to monitor Jamie’s expression.
Missy even had a swollen eye this morning. It was not a grievous wound by any means, but served as a potential artifact of recent conflict within their social group (Note: Missy didn’t seem to care and even made J.B. playfully chase her around the Hill in the rain).
Only Negra and Burrito were left out of the corn fiasco. Negra opted to sift through her chow bags from the safety of her fleece blankets, while Burrito spent more time gazing over at the adjacent tunnel and neighboring chimps.