The sun came up this morning; a common event made remarkable by endless variations, by combinations of moisture, light, dust and emotion. While not as persistent as the sun, I have hiked this trail countless times. It is my training trail, four miles in Glendale’s Thunderbird Park. I have shared this landscape with rabbits, roadrunners, snakes, lizards, coyotes, and friends. I have paused on the summit and absorbed the subtle differences of morning, knowing they reflect changes in my being, growth from the experience of yesterday.
The trail is rough, chewing at my boots, making me work for my hike. I will walk four miles but I reach my destination the first time my ankle compensates for the uneven surface beneath my feet. It is part of the cumulative experience, part of the morning, no less important than fluttering quail or scurrying lizards. A smooth surface would allow my eyes to linger on the more dramatic, missing the substance of the trail, missing the makeup of the landscape.
Held low, captured by movement, my eyes settled on a lone coyote one quarter mile away. I stopped, admired his fluid movement and spoke softly to the canine.
Sharing a moment with a Utah coyote
Their ability to adapt is evidence of their intelligence, an intelligence fed by superior senses. Coyotes will stand silently, listening for rodents scurrying under snow. They can pounce, lightly launching their bodies into graceful arcs, penetrating the snow with enough precision to kill unseen prey, life sustaining calories in the scarcity of winter. They can hunt in teams, flushing rodents into the path of their partner. When Europeans colonized the east coast of the Americas, coyotes lived west of the Mississippi. One species altered habitat, the other adjusted, both now roam the width of North America.
Wind carried my voice and scent, feeding information. His head pivoted, motion ceased, he knew more about me than I about him. Our eyes locked in unspoken communication, we shared an instant—wordless thoughts exchanged, a passing moment for him emotionally imprinted in my memory. Then, blending with the desert, he was gone.