Howl

Coyotes are moving in. I haven’t seen one yet, even though our garden along the wooded creek provides some prime hors d’oeuvres, but I’m getting the emails every couple of days now. “Coyote spotted on Cassamia Glen. Coyote StareHe was so thin he walked through the bars of my iron gate.” “Coyote spotted on Forest Drive, trotting down the middle of the street in broad daylight. A neighbor’s dog barked like mad, and the coyote never even glanced over.” Phantoms are walking among us, their wildness brushing too close to our cultivated lives, and I can’t help feeling a little like Harry Potter spying the wispy cloaktrails of a dementor.

Back in the 80’s when I owned every Molly-Ringwold-worthy funky pin to be found at Wal-Mart, I had a cute little pewter rendition of a howling coyote. He seemed so whimsically free-spirited and a little like me with a heart full of song and a soul full of wanderlust. A cocker spaniel with a great set of lungs. Youthful myopia, I loved you so! Wiser now with better glasses and living in an increasingly cat-free neighborhood, coyotes simply suck, and their eerie howl is about as close to the tolling of the bell as it gets.

Coyotes, unlike me, have no fear. Airplanes are hitting them on runways. What living being can you name that will stand its ground while a 900,000 pound 747 bears down screaming at 130 decibels? No wonder the frenzied barking of a domesticated golden retriever doesn’t warrant so much as a glance.

I have fear. I feel it when I think of the friend who died on Tuesday after my husband held his hand and laughed goodbyes with him, less than 30 days after the doctors saw cancer. I feel it when I think of a friend who died of unseen injuries on Sunday, 20 days after walking away from totaling her car and so grateful to be alive. I feel it when I think of my father-in-law, dead only 11 days after discovering lung cancer, or my mother, dead in 6 months from a condition considered “easily controlled by drugs,” or my too-many friends seeking life through chemotherapy and other poisons. Coyotes are everywhere — hungry, unafraid, and thin enough to pass through our gates.

And I want to learn how to beat the coyote at his own game. I want to learn that laser beam focus, that unflinchable exterior, that iron-clad intent. And most of all, I want to learn to stop being so “nice”, so allowing, so patient, so quiet, so willing to take a back seat, so ready to fight for others but not for myself. I’m not there yet, but I’m in training, and the coyotes are taunting me to give it a go. There will be howling.

Howl, Mosaic Art by Pamela Goode

8 thoughts on “Howl

  1. Beautiful writing – I can see that Ashley gets it from you, but where’d you get it?! We can’t wait to see you this weekend. Lots and lots of love!! xxoo

  2. I grew up around coyotes and believe that they are, indeed, fearful. They tend to only come around civilization when they are starving or sick. When we lived in Massachusetts, we had a bear problem. They would come right up into the yard to dig through our garbage. I solved the problem by setting out a dish of food for them every night, well away from the garbage cans. This seemed to make them happy, and they stopped coming up close to the house. Maybe it wasn’t a good thing that I did this, but I did it out of respect for them. I was living in THEIR territory, and it was their territory before it was mine, so I made that offering to them as a way of asking their permission to coexist. It worked!

  3. I think you are much more of a howler than you give yourself credit for. I’ve seen you tackle things I’m not sure I’d want to touch. Maybe there was fear involved, but fear is a normal emotion. It can either propel us to dive in, head first; or it can send us the other way, never to experience that refreshing, cool water as it washes over our body.

    Go on and dive…and howl when you fly through the air.

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