I didn’t sleep well last night. I could say that the violent images and roiling emotions of the week kept me awake, but that would be only partly true. It was the coyotes. It was Saturday night and the coyotes were having a party on the ridge.
Bill and I moved into our home tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Asheville, North Carolina, exactly two years ago. The generous owners of the land next to us give us free access to their 120 acres with pastures, a pine forest, and pond. Trails wind under sheltering canopies of laurel and rhododendron up to a stunning ridgetop view. The first time we climbed to the top and sat reveling in a panorama that gleamed in the rays of a setting sun, I whispered “Coyote.”
“Do you hear one?” Bill asked.
“No. I see one.” She was lean and a surprising beige-yellow color, ambling toward a blackberry thicket and glowing in the golden light of dusk.
Apparently she and her friends had something to celebrate last night. They yipped and bayed well past midnight. They drove Tasha, our Catahoula leopard dog pup, into a frenzy. The only other time I heard her bay and bark and carry on in such style was when Bill played “O Shenandoah” on his harmonica a few weeks back.
About one o’clock in the morning, I took Tasha upstairs to my meditation space and closed all the windows. Micah, our six-year-old German shepherd mix, followed us, modeling calm. The three of us eventually fell asleep, spooned together and serenaded by a CD of soothing chants written 800 years ago by Hildegard of Bingen, covering the coyote calls.
On this morning’s walk, I spied two Indian pipes poking their noses through a carpet of pine needles. Oddly lacking chlorophyll, these delicate, bright white plants were a favorite of my grandfather, who taught me half a century ago that the best way to give thanks to the Creator is to appreciate the Creation. Wild mushrooms are also erupting in the woods, some as big as dinner plates. The pastures are dotted with black-eyed Susans and oxeye daisies and Queen Anne’s lace.
The hummingbirds are hovering around our deck, drinking in liquid sweetness. Their cousins—the goldfinches and nuthatches and red grosbeaks—pull sunflower seeds from the feeders, as the squirrels and chipmunks wait impatiently below to catch the ones that fall from their beaks. A large pileated woodpecker drills a dead pine for bugs. The black bears are helping themselves to the wild blackberries on the mountain, but leave plenty for us to enjoy in cobblers, over ice cream, and with our breakfast granola.
A green heron visited our creek yesterday. At dusk a bullfrog belched his rumbling bass notes from a clump of jewelweed on the bank, and then a soprano section of tree frogs joined the chorus, carrying the melody into the night. A convocation of fireflies lit the trees with blinking magic.
A star fell out of the sky about ten o’clock. Moments later, a crescent moon rose behind the ridge. It will come up again tonight. And the delicate Indian pipes will push their way fully into this frightening and achingly beautiful world. Life goes on.
I don’t know what the coyotes were celebrating last night. But they remind us to be aware of the mysteries around us, raise a ruckus when we have to, have a party even when times are tough, and hang together. Above all, hang together.