I appreciate all animals, but I have a special attraction to the coyote. I’ve always been fascinated by the myths and legends of ancient peoples, and Coyote figures large in Native American mythology. Sometimes a trickster, sometimes a god, sometimes a wise one, Coyote carries many tales. I have my own story to add.
When I lived in the Southwest, I traveled a lot for my work, and preferred traveling by car as it allowed me to take side roads and see so much more of the country than travel by plane allows. The coming home part of any journey was always the best. Work was inevitably located in some large city, and I always breathed a sigh of relief when it was over and the city dwindled to nothing but a smudge of smog in my rear view mirror.
I loved traveling by day, stopping here and there to sketch and photograph, but I loved traveling by night too, especially on little-used roads where the only traffic one is likely to see is the four-legged kind. Magic happens at night in wild places. Late one moonlit night on a lonely two-lane road in southern Utah, I was passing thru an area of enormous and weirdly shaped rock formations standing here and there like sentinels on the landscape. It was so breathtakingly beautiful I had to stop, cut the engine noise, and just revel in the vast silence of the desert. I walked a little ways away from my car and sat down on the ground to just be, be with the night and the silence.
As my senses adjusted to the desert night, I saw a shadow, lighter than the shadows around it, moving. As it came closer, I could see it was a coyote. Evidently, it was curious about this thing that looked and smelled human but didn’t move, for slowly, a few feet at a time, it came closer and closer. Eventually, it sat down in front of me, and we looked at each other, for a very long time. I don’t know how long we sat like that. At some point the coyote lay down and put its head on its front paws, and we continued on, contemplating each other and the night. As the desert cooled, so did I. It was time to return to my car and nap under my down comforter for a while before the sun rose. I spoke a few words of thanks to the coyote so as not to startle it, and slowly began to rise. The coyote sat up, but showed no fear. When I reached my car, I turned to look, but it was gone, a shadow among the other shadows.
Here is Coyote, bearer of many tales, padding softly from the realm of legend into a nocturnal Southwest landscape.