note to readers
During salmon season last spring, I was in my office tapping away at the final draft of this novel—long after any creative intrusion might infect the manuscript—when the phone rang. At seven in the morning it had to be a fishing inquiry. And so it was, a friend asking if the weather might grant us some boat time on the river. I could hear wind in the trees and our chimes in the fig tree out front gently gonging, but I parted my office blinds for confirmation. In the yard just ten feet from my window a coyote was looking back. Young and lean with that bottlebrush tail, it flinched like an idea that didn’t take and was gone.
Because of the wind and heavy sky I postponed fishing and went back to my keyboard for another hour, when Marianne came down from her shower. She knew by the rain—now rattling against the windows—why I hadn’t gone fishing, but the coyote sighting was a surprise.Over breakfast we talked about our cats and how strays tend to be scuffle-du-jour for coyotes at the edge of urban areas. When we first moved here eight years ago we had removed the collars from our cats “so as not to choke the coyotes,” I liked to say, but now it was no longer amusing. We kept the cat door closed at night for the next couple weeks but eventually realized we wouldn’t impose cat curfew forever, and since the cats generally remain indoors at night anyway, we relaxed our vigil.
Our cats are still with us, sleeping indoors when we sleep, and coyotes thrive in the park. I look out my window from time to time hoping to have another sighting. Right now I’m thinking about that one young coyote coming up out of the park, how it appeared like a thought that could have become a sweet moment in a novel if the timing had been right, but I was between novels, and it had nowhere else to go.
for Unbridled Books May, 2011