Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26: Coyotes

Last night was the perfect night for a party. One of my Land Trust's board members, Gray, and I threw one at Beech Nut, a historic sod-roofed stone hut atop Beech Hill in Rockport, in the middle of our 295-acre preserve there. The party hosts were the lucky winners of the Land Trust's Raffle this spring; first prize was this party. The clear blue sky and mild temps were perfect for a gathering like this. We could see across the bay all the way to the mountains of Acadia NP, and inland, the Camden Hills glowed as the sun set among them.

After sunset, as the pink in the sky deepened and spread, the guests headed down the hill, leaving the two of us to clean up in the growing dark. (The hut has no electricity.) At one point I was out on the verandah dumping ice when I heard a siren. I watched to see if the lights of the police car were visible below. Suddenly the wail of the siren seemed to multiply. It took me a second to realize that a pack of coyotes had joined their voices to the siren chorus. I called Gray outside to hear it. She was startled by how close they were and by how many there seemed to be. I could pick out puppy yips and full howls, probably a mixed family group. Such a stirring, chilling sound rising from the forest at the base of the hill. The coyotes had made their presence known.

I was reminded how once, in a mountain canyon of Arizona, a fighter jet flew low up the canyon in some kind of maneuver and set off all the coyotes that had heretofore been invisible around me. I was also reminded of a recent conversation at Bread Loaf, where I've often heard coyotes, about how eastern coyotes pack up more than western ones because they have more wolf genes. The person I was talking to brought up the relatively recent incident of a woman being attacked and killed by a coyote pack in Nova Scotia.

As we left the hill and drove off last night, we were stopped by a police car--one of 12, I was told later. The cop told us to keep our eyes open for a guy in shorts and a t-shirt. No, he wasn't armed or dangerous, just on the lam. Nonetheless, as we drove past the coyote-filled woods, I know I'd have felt safer with all those "song dogs" than with one human fugitive.

They can't resist singing along
with the sirens--
coyotes revealed.

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