Last night I was awake again and from my warm place in the bed, I heard the coyotes. They were far away but one of them (the male, I think) was howling and one of them (the female) was yipping. Yesterday, on our walk down the driveway (we can’t drive up in this snow so leave the car by the highway), we saw the whole story of how the coyotes had spent their morning. It had snowed overnight so we knew the tracks were fresh. They’d been up near the house (which explains why the cat was skittish). One of them stopped to pee. Above is where they were ambling down the driveway, their tracks crossing. Sometimes you could tell that one was following almost in the other’s footprints. Sometimes they walked on separate sides of the driveway. By the time they reached the old orchard, they were walking side by side.
They are presences in our lives and even in our sleep. And in my memory, as I think of the years that we’ve heard them, seen them, the night wild with their song.
And listen: the coyotes are singing, the deep voice of the father,the rather more shrill voice of the mother—anxious that all her offspring eat well and learn to hunt, to care for their safety in the forest beyond the orchard—and the lilting joyous youngsters unaware that a life is anything other than the moment in moonlight, fresh meat in their stomachs, the old trees with a few apples and pears too small and green for any living thing o be interested in this early in the season.
—from “Euclid’s Orchard”, published in Euclid’s Orchard & Other Essays, Mother Tongue Publishing, 2017.