Monday, July 12, 2010


Perhaps it is an oversimplification, but I can certainly see why the coyote has a place in the mythical pantheon of many of the Native American Peoples. They have an almost unreal appearance when seen in the dusk times just before sunrise and just after sunset. The way they blend into the native grasses especially if there is even a slight fog is uncanny.

It was just about five and we were walking along the edge of the lake on the homeward stretch of our walk. A shallow layer of ground fog not more than a foot deep carpeted the low parts of the park. It was really thin, you could easily see the path through it even off in the distance; the fog just gave the scene that surreal look that early mornings sometimes have.

About twenty yards away a movement caught my eye. I looked to see what had drawn my attention and for a moment couldn’t see anything. Then my eye caught him. The coyote was at the edge of the buffalo grass off the path. It was almost as if he could tell I had spotted him because he then skulked off into the grass and was completely lost to site. "Where there's one coyote, there are more." I thought.

Saga was far more interested in sniffing at some intriguing smell at the side of the path to have noticed anything and I was almost convinced that I had imagined the coyote; it had been such a brief glimpse that I could easily have manufactured it out of the wisps of fog and a breeze. That is, I could have believed it but for the fact that the next time I looked, he was back.

This time there were two of them. One had come out of the grass right where the original one had hidden, the other was a few feet closer to Saga and me. They looked in the opposite direction, and then they looked right at me. Oblivious, Saga kept sniffing at something that had her full attention.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps my eyes were playing tricks. Admittedly, my attention was split between the coyotes and what Saga was up to. (Oh, god! Is she planning on rolling in something? She certainly is interested in whatever she has found!)

The next time I looked up I was not totally surprised to see that the coyotes were gone again. So this is why the coyote has the place as the trickster god; think Loki from Norse mythology. You could never be sure what you were seeing.

I was about to dismiss it again as a trick of the light, the fog, the fact that I was thinking about coyotes, the fact that I needed more coffee, take your pick! That is I was until Saga suddenly perked-up. Her ears went up; her head snapped to look at the spot that had caught my attention. Then Saga put her hackles up and started growling in the direction I had thought I had seen the coyotes and I knew that I had seen them.

I looked at the spot I had seen them and saw nothing. Saga ran toward the spot to the extent I would let her, keeping the lead relatively short. (Great! Just what I need: Saga trying to herd the coyotes for me!) A couple more growls and a single bark came out of her and then Saga looked at me.

Either she was trying to tell me that she had scared off the coyotes or she was wondering why I was keeping her from going and rounding-up the gray, ghost-like dogs. She went back to sniffing, and I decided that the coyotes must have passed and so we continued our transit of the park, headed home to coffee and a cookie for Saga, my brave little shepherdess. I guess I can rest secure in the knowledge that Saga will be there to protect me from the coyotes – at least she will be once they are gone!

Wherever you are today, I hope that someone is looking out for your better interests.

Don Bergquist – July 12, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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