a few lines on a snowy morning



The other night as the snow was falling, softly, softly, the trees white in smudgy moonlight, I heard coyotes yipping by the old orchard. Heard them, at least 2, calling back and forth. This way, or this way, or this?


Walking up the driveway after my swim, car left by the highway, I saw their tracks, one set heading into the bush by the turn, one set across the orchard. One of them had paused at near the broken gate to pee.


Cleaning the back rooms to get them ready for a visiting family later in the week, I remember looking out to see a coyote passing the house. I was writing about orchards and family, an essay that became the title piece of Euclid’s Orchard, and I recorded the moment at my desk.

One day a single light brown coyote came out of the woods and walked by my window. It had all the time in the world. It passed the wing of rooms where my children grew up. It passed the windows they looked out at night, first thing in the morning, drawing their curtains to let sunlight in or the grey light of winter, in excitement, lonely or sleepless, in good health and bad, dazzled with new love or sorrow, at the lack of it, on the eve of their birthdays, new ventures, on the eve of leaving home. I went to the back of the house to see where the animal was headed but it did what coyotes do, a trick I wish I could also learn. It dematerialized. Vanished into thin air.


Do you remember, I’ll ask my son, do you remember the summer that the young pup visited each morning, pausing at the edge of the woods to eat salal berries, and do you remember how we watched it enter the old doghouse, empty since Tiger died, turning itself around twice, and sitting in the opening.



In the night, listening to the coyotes, I wished for the time to know everything again.

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