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Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Thirsty Coyote












There are woods behind my house, and to the west, across the road, is a lake. All sorts of critters live in the woods, including a cautious coyote.

The coyote likes to go to the lake just before sundown every day and returns to the woods at dark. But he has a problem.

He sits on a little hill behind my fence, about halfway between the woods and the road, and watches. When traffic clears, he runs toward the road. When he sees or hears a car, he sprints back to the hill, then turns and watches again, waiting. 

His problem is one of being overly cautious. I watched him eye the road for over an hour last night. He’s like drivers who won’t go because they see a car three miles away and don’t think they can beat it. I found myself chanting go now, go now, go now each instance he had time to cross. He didn’t hear me. It grew dark, and the coyote retreated to the woods without his cool drink of water.

When I was about six my family visited the dam at Lake Pomme de Terre. We parked on a dead end, with a scenic overlook. There were no other visitors in sight. My parents were taking videos (they were called home movies at the time) and told me to cross the road.

I stood by the car. I looked left. I looked right toward the dead end. I looked left. I looked right. My parents laughed at me and told me again to cross the road. I was a sensitive little bugger and crossed, but I wasn’t happy about it.

After playing my role in the home movie, I returned to the car. I don’t remember what my parents were doing that they didn’t see – probably filming my sister crossing the road umpteen times like it was no big deal – but I got the bright idea to gather a handful of tiny, tiny gravel, and stuff as much of it as I could into the ignition switch. That would teach them to laugh at my fears.


When it was time to leave (there are no home movies of this), Dad had to pick out every little bit of it, and I was in deep doo-doo.

By the time I was grown, I’d gone from being like the overly cautious coyote to acting more like a squirrel in the road – trying to get to my next adventure, often darting around without direction, but moving nonetheless. I made some bad choices, but I had fun and I didn't become buzzard food, like many squirrels do.

These days, I’ve mellowed into another animal – somewhere between being so cautious that I never get anywhere and being so reckless that it’s just stupid for a woman of my respectable age. Maybe I’m like an owl now, who sees a mouse, and wants it for supper. He has to consider the plan for a little bit before swooping – the coyote may have his eye on that same mouse – but not for too long, or he’ll go hungry.


So I cautiously consider my decisions, and then act swiftly. I don’t want to be thirsty because I was afraid to cross the road to get to the water.




16 comments:

  1. Cautious Coyote--sounds like a great cartoon character or figure in a book! :-)

    It seems always to come back to fear, doesn't it? Is it caution or just timing development practice? Sigh. I always thought my balance would be somewhere in the mediate range, not a pendulum wildly swinging back and forth between poles. LOL. All that to say, "Honey, I feel ya."

    P.S. That picture of your little guy in the setting sun is gorgeous!

    P.P.S. Still laughing scandalously about the tiny, tiny gravel...

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    1. Yes, it does always seem to come back to fear. I get that pendulum analogy, for sure. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. Deb, I love watching animals, too. Your own observations and metaphors gave me cause to pause this morning...I need to slow down, and reflect more. Your writing draws the reader in. Your vulnerability keeps us there. Now we just want more, please.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words and encouragement!

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  3. I tend to be a quick checker and if nothing is within 50 feet I move. Not realizing sometimes that it is not quite enough space to cross safely, so I run. Your pictures and story were wonderful. Bet they didn't let you near any the car without checking pockets after that.

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    1. Ha, Stella! If I had to run to make it safely it would be a sight to see. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. What a beautiful moment to share with us! How I'd love to have the opportunity to watch a coyote ponder the world while I am in the comfort of my kitchen. We have a resident fox that uses my driveway as a shortcut, but he is always making a 4 second pass through, and never stays to think about things. There is always so much to learn from our wild friends, isn't there, if we only take a minute (or sixty) to pay attention? Thank you for sharing these beautiful moments with us.

    I laughed so hard about the gravel though. If had done that with my dad, I'd have been road kill. The coyote wouldn't have had to fear the cars at all. He'd have just been grateful for the drive-through service.

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    1. We can truly learn a lot from animals if we just pay attention. I knew from observation that coyotes stick to their routines, but just recently learned that they observe and remember ours too, which is fascinating and also creepy. Laughing about drive-through service - ha!

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  5. Deb, so good to see you blogging again! It's been too long! Love the story of the cautious coyote and how you applied his caution to your own life. Can't wait for more!!!

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    1. Thanks Joseph! It HAS been too long : )

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  6. Oh, wowser, Deb - this is gorgeous. "I don't want to be thirsty because I was afraid to cross the road to get to the water." I cannot tell you how deeply this resonated with me!

    I'm giggling like a mad woman about the gravel - thank God my family didn't believe in home movies! Of course, I don't have a sibling they could have compared me to, so either way, I would have been dead meat.

    Loved this and can't wait to read more!

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    1. I'm so glad there isn't video evidence of everything! Thanks for the kind words.

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  7. As always your writing while evoking emotion around reflection of fear is balanced by the underlying sense of humor that is so special in your work. Look forward to reading more about your antics and those of cautious coyote.

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    1. Thanks so much Via! I look forward to the launch of your new blog.

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  8. You know, you captured considerable truth here and frankly, I was dying over "I don’t remember what my parents were doing that they didn’t see – probably filming my sister crossing the road umpteen times like it was no big deal" and in your shoes, I too would have stuffed the ignition switch with tiny rocks. It doesn't pay to mock people as they evolve from coyote to squirrel to owl! How little our parents knew about healthy motivation. So much wisdom and humor in this short piece. Much enjoyed.

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    1. You always notice the subtle, oft-missed messages in my posts (I miss them myself sometimes). Thanks for the kind words.

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