Perspective: The Least

Aug 11, 2020

You could go your whole life without knowing there is such a creature as a least chipmunk, which I almost did until last week’s adventure in the boundary waters wilderness with my family and the Ellisses. At our Basswood Lake campsite we were outflanked by a small army of the tiny dervishes.

You might think chipmunk is as low to the ground as a squirrel-ish rodent can get. The least chipmunk is lower, but what he lacks in stature, he makes up in attitude. He carries his least tail like a least flagpole. He’s all racing stripes and lightning forays for the food bag. He lowers his tail for no camper.

In the boundary waters, you know enough to put your food away, but your toothbrush? The least chipmunks stole mine and discarded it among the caribou moss with their least teeth marks and least spittle all over it. Soon, the varicolored camp sporks fell victim, and a fine piece of afternoon was lost to a spork hunt. When the pasta strainer disappeared we knew we had a problem.

It takes a least person to truly appreciate a least creature. Four-year-old Valentina was held rapturous by the least chipmunks. She even had a special name for them: munk-munk. Watching Vale watch the munk-munks, I understood one good reason to come to the wilderness: to leave the big problems of the world at home and readjust your focus, for a few days, on least things.

On our last day at the campsite, all seven of us watched as a munk-munk perched on a greenstone stool and dined on a single orange M&M. It was an encounter both unexpected and insignificant, yet wholly worthy of attention.

I'm Chris Fink and that's my Perspective.