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The Call of the Wild

It has been winter here lately. Not old fashioned, real Vermont winter, mind you, although we did have a few days of that at the very beginning of the year, but winter, with light fluffy snow. The ski places have been doing land office business, and the economy has been benefiting greatly from the influx of folks from away, spending money in local shops. After last year's almost total flop of a winter, things are good.

Now I don't alpine ski. My parents weren't of that socio-economic class when I was growing up, and besides, my husband sees too many knees of people who do alpine skiing to really encourage it in those he loves. I've been doing nordic skiing since I was 12 though, and that's the exercise I choose when snow is coming down, and if I chose to walk or run I would have to be arguing right-of-way with the plows. I have the right of way, but plows are big, and I don't want to be right, but dead. So I've been doing some nordic skiing around our back acres, and I've been having such fun with it that I've been doing it even on some bright sunny days. Cold, clear, fresh air, sunshine, and a pleasant feeling of being out and about. What's not to like?

Today I went out to ski (a little rushed and a little late due to having to deal with the issues of paying for the next session of figure skating and of The Whirlwind's lost ski poles before she goes to Ski Runners on Friday) so there I was, stepping into my bindings at 1:30, when I'd intended to be out there by 1:00 p.m. at the latest. I'm just slipping my hands into the straps on the poles and gripping them when an unearthly howl rises up behind me. It's loud, it's wild, and it's not very far off. Coyotes, and plenty of them, in the middle of the day, in broad daylight. It was eerie and beautiful, and totally unexpected at that time of day. It made my day.

Our neighbor's dog? Not so much. The poor fellow spent the next half hour sending out periodic "I'm here! My pack is here!" barks, before he finally gave up and quieted down. Generally speaking, he's not a very talkative fellow.

Our neighbors are freaked out by having coyotes in the area. I'm not. I love it. These are wild animals, and they are shy. I'm not silly enough to let my cats roam outside, not because of the coyotes, but because of the fisher cats, who think cats are yummy good eatin' when they can't get wild turkey. Dogs are required to be on a lead, although it's a law more honored in the breach. I am one of the very few in town who has actually seen a live coyote. He was traveling on his own, and was padding across a snowy field about two years ago as winter was fading into spring, and he was making for the road to cross it and get back to the woods on the other side. He got a look at me, and abruptly decided he wanted to head back to the woods he'd come from.

I love coyotes. Then again, I don't keep either sheep or chickens.

Comments

thothmes
Jan. 10th, 2013 03:19 am (UTC)
I have no doubt that this is true. The behavior of wildlife that has become accustomed to urban and semi-urban areas is vastly different from the behavior that they display in rural situations. The deer around here bound off when I'm 1/4 mile away if there is a line of sight. Down in suburban New Jersey where my mother now lives, the deer will just stand and watch me run by from three yards away, with an expression that reminds me of an urban pidgeon: "Oh, come ON! Don't tell me you expect me to get out of your way! Oh, allllright already! I'm going! Sheesh!"

Urban/suburban coyotes have to live on what they can get, and that includes cats, rats, squirrels, and small dogs. There have been some ugly incidents in situations where coyotes live in population dense areas of them attacking toddlers too, I understand. But these are highly intelligent and desperate animals, who are living in an environment that they were not designed to survive in, but where they have learned to get along.

Around here there is enough undeveloped land and enough food available in the form of deer, rabbits, mice, and other animals, that there is no need to come near people, and they are very shy and elusive.

Poor Max. What a horrible way to go. My grandmother bred Siamese, and we have always owned them, so I know what wonderful beings they are. We've never allowed our cats to wander outside, because there have always been roads with traffic that moves far too fast far to close to where we have lived.

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