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Adventures with Coyotes…and Sub-Atomic Particles

December 29, 2012
An adult coyote watching from the bush

An adult coyote watching from the bush

I was out running this morning in a woods that was  soft, white and quiet with snow.  And I got to thinking about how some things can be two things at the same time.   Electrons, apparently, can be both a wave and a particle – at the same time.  Yet these things are impossible in my experience.  Are these apparent impossibilities  reality?  Or are they the version of reality that our brains  – evolved to see the world in the most practical way possible – may never be able to experience?    Is my day-to-day reality only a product of evolution – of the restrictions imposed on my brain by evolution to encourage my survival?  What if my brain allowed me to be two things at once, to be in two places at once?  And then I thought of coyotes.

I have encountered coyotes several times.  I have had to grab my German Shepherd puppy up into my arms during an evening walk. A coyote (a group of coyotes as it turned out) was whining and wheedling from the dark woods- trying to draw the puppy close.   I suspect no good would have come of that.  Years later, I  looked out in the dawn light to see why another dog – my  large, tethered, German Shepherd male – was barking.  I came out to see him almost nose to nose with a coyote.  I did not wait  to see the outcome of that encounter either. I ran out and the coyote ran back to the woods.   I know that there is a group of coyotes near my home and I certainly did not want my dog to become coyote food.  That, apparently, was the fate of a small dog that had lived at this home a few years ago.   I saw the adults several times that summer – only fleeting glimpses of moving figures in the bush.  They had a den in the woods nearby that year.

Two Coyote Pups Playing - photo taken from a distance

Two Coyote Pups Playing – photo taken from a distance

I know that coyotes would eat my dog, given the opportunity.  I also know that they are responsible for killing and eating chickens, other livestock, deer fawns and other animals without regard for granting a merciful death.  They are predators and their first responsibility is to survive as best they can.

I know all this, but I admit to feeling a kinship with coyotes.

I was observing and recording the behaviour of birds from a canoe a few years ago.  I had to leave the canoe behind while I crawled quietly through a dense willow tangle.  I  had paused to look  around – and locked eyes with a female coyote who was nursing her pups.  I met her eyes for barely two seconds before she gave a quick growl that sent her two pups over the top of a log and away.  She stood, watched me for a moment before turning to follow her pups.  I saw her later that summer as she hunted for voles.  I also watched two coyote pups that same summer play for about five minutes before they trotted away into the long grass by a creek.

I have watched coyote pups play since then – examining some novel thing before seeing me and scurrying back into the bush.  It is that split second eye to eye contact that has stayed with me, however.  When I imagine myself running through stars, through tangled midnight trees I imagine myself following that coyote howl to places I have yet to see.  That part of my brain that allows me to take spiritual, ethereal and other-worldly journeys recognized something in those coyote eyes.  And recognized myself looking back.

As I said before, thinking of how something could exist as two things at once made me think of coyotes. Made me wonder about the nature of reality, and about my own perception of reality.  I may follow spiritual adventures with coyotes.   I will, however, also keep a firm grip on my dog when coyotes are nearby.

Coyote tracks in sand

Coyote tracks in sand

  1. Moe permalink

    I can’t help loving coyotes even though I know I have lost cats to them in the past. I used to live in the bush where a family of coyotes lived right nearby and frequently danced and sang in my meadow and from my upper window I could see their shadows move and watch their yellow eyes flash in the dark. In the winter I had to walk up to my cabin and I could hear them and see their eyes in the blackness and I just kept coming, I was never afraid of them, they were always essentially timid or maybe just careful. They used to walk in a group across the mountain behind the cabin and carry on the most complex conversations, they have a tonal language like some oriental speech. I can hardly think of any sounds I find more beautiful than the eerie tonalities of coyote music. I don’t hear them so much where I am now, and I have never lost any cats here. I see their tracks by the river.

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