It is just past noon on Sunday, March 17. The sun is bright, the sky is blue, and the temperature is above 60 degrees. Dixie and I are sitting on a stone bench off the pathway beyond Summerplace Woods. Several minutes ago, on our walk through the woods, my little dog Dixie and I were visited by Coyote, who came running out of the brush to say hello. In broad daylight. With no fear.
Coyote lifted his right front paw lightly and placed it gently forward in respectful greeting. Dixie responded in kind, as is the custom between her and Coyote. Dixie did not quiver in the least.
Then Coyote put on a show for us, jumping, twirling, hopping, and dancing playfully on the grass. Dixie and I stood still, silently watching in awe. Coyote stopped dancing, turned his head to us with wide open eyes, gave us a quick wink, and smiled and smiled, his white teeth gleaming in the sunlight. Slowly and confidently taking a few easy steps onward ahead of us, Coyote paused, looked back at us, and seemed to urge us to follow. I was hesitant at first, but Dixie pulled on her leash, eager to follow, and so, we followed.
Coyote continued onward ahead of us, frequently pausing, looking back as if to be sure of us, and urging us to keep following. Wanting not to risk jerking Dixie on her leash as she became increasingly interested in other smells off the path, I picked her up and carried her. Coyote and I, with Dixie contentedly settled in my arms, walked slowly and peacefully together along the tree-lined path into a large grassy opening near the Windsor Condominiums.
Suddenly aware of another two-legged who appeared on the path far ahead of us, Coyote paused, turned his whole body around to face us, gave us a slow wink, the blue lids of his eyes sparkling, and quickly ran right by us back into the woods. Coyote was so close that we could see the gray and reddish-brown colors of his beautiful thick coat and bushy tail. Dixie lifted her nose high in the air, stretching her neck to take in the smells of Coyote. No fear, no quivering.
After Coyote disappeared, I put Dixie back down on the ground, and we quickened our pace on the path to a stone bench, where we sat down to rest and wait for the other two-legged to pass us by. I needed to exhale and be with what had just happened. We sat there for several minutes.
When the two-legged was no longer in our sights, Dixie let out a sound I had never heard before. It wasn’t a sharp bark, a growl, a yip, a huff, a woof, a whine, or a whimper; it was more of a soft bark, like a song. She must have been giving Coyote the all-clear sign, because Coyote suddenly dashed back out of the woods, ran a short way in our direction, stopped, looked at us, lifted his paw, extended it gently toward us as if to say a more proper goodbye, gave us another slow wink, and then walked back into the woods. Dixie sat quietly by my side, leaning into me on the bench, as I wept.
After a bit, I raised my head, opened my eyes, wiped my face with one of my father’s handkerchiefs, looked up at the clear blue sky, and soaked in the sunlight and warmth. Then I wrote down the encounter in the Evernote app on my cell phone so that I could remember it and share it. I did not want to wonder later tonight if it had really happened or if I had just dreamed it. Indeed, it really did happen.
Some of you reading this know that I recently returned from South Dakota, where I was with my friend Miya as death approached her and then arrived and Miya let go of life. She was a member of the Oglala Lakota Indian tribe, a subtribe of the Great Sioux Nation. She was called Miyaca, a Siouan word meaning “prairie wolf, coyote.” She had Coyote medicine. I called her Miya.
I cannot explain the Mystery of life that gives us encounters like today’s with Coyote. I can only be present for the encounter and the Mystery, and be grateful.
Composed on March 17, 2019, on a stone bench outside Summerplace Woods, near the Windsor Condominiums – three weeks after my friend Miya died.