A novel about wild love.
The woman saw him first, a lone coyote walking on a ridge just above a dry wash. She had seen him several times – him or another coyote, sometimes alone, sometimes in a group of three or four – while walking her dog before work on summer mornings.
The woman loved seeing the coyotes in the undeveloped area next to her home, a bittersweet reminder that the wild, though disappearing, was at times still near. This feeling added to her enjoyment of Indian summer mornings such as this one, when the sun hadn’t quite topped the eastern mountain range and the air was still cool. Shortly, the dog would be safely napping in the house, and the woman would be driving with the air conditioner on in the heavy summer heat. For right now it was just the land and the elements, the animals – and she and her dog, animals too – out to see and partake of what the new day had to offer. But watching the coyote watching her dog was another matter. The wild was beautiful, but it was still wild.
She noticed that the dog, used to being cared for, her senses not so finely honed, hadn’t yet seen the coyote. Coquita trotted along obliviously, sniffing the air, pawing the dry grass for lizards, slowing down to mark territory with her scent, then speeding up to try to interest the woman in some play. But the coyote, used to looking out for himself, all senses on alert, definitely saw the dog. The woman watched him stop and stare intently at them, not moving until they passed out of vision, and then turning his head slightly to follow them with his keen gaze. She wondered what he thought of the dog as he watched. Did he think Coquita was pretty? Or was she just potential prey to him? The dog bounded ahead and then came up short when she saw the coyote. All three stood still. The dog’s ears pricked, and her nose wiggled. The coyote didn’t move at all. Then a cloud passed overhead; a crow cawed. The woman shivered slightly and called the dog back to the safety of the larger human presence: “Coca! Co-qui-ta! Come on, little girl. Let’s go home.”