Friday, October 17, 2008

The coyotes

Before moving to San Diego I had only seen a coyote one time. It was on a camping trip in New Mexico. On a whim my mom had decided to take a cross country road trip from Chicago to San Francisco bringing along my sister, brother, our cousin Tara, and me. I think I was around 8 at the time; my sister was 10, Tara 11, and Roger 12. How she managed on her own with 4 young kids packed into a station wagon traveling cross country, I have no idea. My mom is a pretty amazing woman.

I vividly remember our stop off in New Mexico. We stayed somewhere near the city of Gallup. I only remember that because the name fascinated me. It made me think of an energetic horse on the beach. In reality it was dusty and populated with truckers as opposed to horses. After our whirl wind trip ended I always remembered the 24 hours we spent in New Mexico. I can still picture the camp ground we stayed at. We were surrounded by mountains. Michelle, Tara, Rog, and I spent the afternoon exploring and hunting for lizards. By the evening we were exhausted. The sky appeared to go on and on forever. I had never seen so many stars. The people in the trailer next to us had all sorts of strange instruments like washing boards, ukuleles, and harmonicas. They jammed most of the night. One of the old guy’s made an inappropriate comment towards my mom, something about her boobs. I could feel her embarrassment. I think that was the first time I realized that outside of being my mother she was also a real live woman. They were a nice friendly group otherwise. They shared some home cooked food with us. After dinner my mom sent me to throw away the trash in one of the dumpsters. When I opened up the lid and threw in the trash, a strange creature came skittering out of the dumpster. I nearly fainted! With my heart racing I turned around to head back to the camp site when I noticed something standing in front of me. It appeared to be half wolf half dog. I froze, not wanting to move a muscle, trying to blend in with the landscape, hoping to go unnoticed. I had always loved dogs but there was something really frightening about this one. I could tell it was wild. I can remember being completely terrified. Luckily within a moment it ran off. And that was the first encounter I've ever had with a coyote. Luckily there was lots of food at the campsite so I think the coyote was more interested in what was in the dumpster then me.

Where I live now is surrounded by canyons. There are loads of coyotes in our neighborhood. I have only had the pleasure of seeing two as of yet. One Sunday morning we saw one standing in front of the high school near our home. They are such beautiful animals. It knocked the breath right out of me. About a month ago, Aaron and I saw one at a local park. After the sun had sunk into the sky, it came out from the canyon sniffing around for food. It was so skinny and sickly looking that Aaron and I left most of our picnic dinner behind for it.

Within the last few weeks I have been awoken mid sleep twice to hear the coyotes howling outside. It's such and eerie sound. It sounds like there are hundreds of them. They seem so close, like I could open my window and see them right there on our back porch. I imagine in reality they could be miles away. They almost sound like a group of heartbroken women crying their eyes out. Last night I woke to them again. The sound is so spooky! I didn't go back to sleep. There is something so beautifully tragic about their howls. I couldn't stop listening. I worry that with all the development in San Diego we are pushing the poor coyotes out of their homes. I hope they have enough land and enough food!

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