Coyote Moment

The sun came up this morning; a common event made remarkable by endless variations, by combinations of moisture, light, dust and emotion. While not as persistent as the sun, I have hiked this trail countless times. It is my training trail, four miles in Glendale’s Thunderbird Park. I have shared this landscape with rabbits, roadrunners, snakes, lizards, coyotes, and friends. I have paused on the summit and absorbed the subtle differences of morning, knowing they reflect changes in my being, growth from the experience of yesterday.

The trail is rough, chewing at my boots, making me work for my hike. I will walk four miles but I reach my destination the first time my ankle compensates for the uneven surface beneath my feet. It is part of the cumulative experience, part of the morning, no less important than fluttering quail or scurrying lizards. A smooth surface would allow my eyes to linger on the more dramatic, missing the substance of the trail, missing the makeup of the landscape.

Held low, captured by movement, my eyes settled on a lone coyote one quarter mile away. I stopped, admired his fluid movement and spoke softly to the canine.

coyote Wild Rose 05-10-17 (1)

Sharing a moment with a Utah coyote

Their ability to adapt is evidence of their intelligence, an intelligence fed by superior senses. Coyotes will stand silently, listening for rodents scurrying under snow. They can pounce, lightly launching their bodies into graceful arcs, penetrating the snow with enough precision to kill unseen prey, life sustaining calories in the scarcity of winter. They can hunt in teams, flushing rodents into the path of their partner. When Europeans colonized the east coast of the Americas, coyotes lived west of the Mississippi. One species altered habitat, the other adjusted, both now roam the width of North America.

Wind carried my voice and scent, feeding information. His head pivoted, motion ceased, he knew more about me than I about him. Our eyes locked in unspoken communication, we shared an instant—wordless thoughts exchanged, a passing moment for him emotionally imprinted in my memory. Then, blending with the desert, he was gone.

2 thoughts on “Coyote Moment

  1. Well written. It was only this week that Patty and I observed a very red sun low on the horizon. We talked about the atmospheric effects that must be in play to give us this spectacular red view. You have hit the nail on the head. Within minutes the beautiful red sun had turned to a rather pedestrian yellow. We, like you, revel in those quick moments of “special”. Having never been in the presence of a coyote I can only imagine that I would have been hoofing it in the opposite direction. Were you as close as this shot seems or was that a 300mm lens? Or for me to get this shot a 600mm!
    I enjoyed sharing this moment with you. Reading about your adventures is awesome.


    1. Terry, I was motionless, watching a moth, when the coyote in the photograph passed 30 feet in front of me. I moved to a better position for the picture. This coyote was wary, he must not have know I was there when he walked by. Yellowstone coyotes do not appear to fear humans, they are not hunted. While close encounters with the coyotes are not an every day occurrence, they are not uncommon. I have never been concerned that one might attack, I always consider a chance meeting a photo opportunity and a moment to be enjoyed. If you are ever lucky enough to see one in the wild enjoy the moment, enjoy the memory. Mike


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