I call her
The Lady Coyote of Abbotts Lagoon
She first appeared on the opposite side of the water. We watched her make her way along the shoreline around to where we were. She approached, trotting, with almost no concern about our presence. Does that say more about her predatory confidence or our ability to remain nonthreatening and just another part of the landscape? I wonder, because she joined us for our wanderings at least three or four more times that day. It wasn’t until the third visit that I really noticed that she was a she, with pups somewhere given the state of her lady body. She had clearly been providing nourishment to at least one pup if not more for some time now.
That was when I really began to take in the rest of her and I wondered more and more about what her life had been like, still is like even. Her face is all fucked up and glorious in its asymmetry. One side snaggle tooth, the other side with a lazy eye occasionally making her look cross-eyed and a little dopey. The scar on the opposite side of her mouth from the snaggle tooth left a line splitting her smile on one side. On the other side her ear had a flap of hanging flesh and fur, completely healed, but hanging like her own personal flag. The scars atop her nose were perhaps the most noticeable, but when you took in the full picture of the map of her face, they were the least interesting, by far. I’ve never had the privilege of getting to spend so much time observing a predator in their territory as she allowed me last week. I have seen a number of coyotes, but this is the only one that I would recognize again for certain if our paths are ever to cross again. I hope they do. Somehow, I have become deeply interested in the welfare of this particular animal. And I hope I can be as hospitable to the creatures that enter my domain as she was tolerant of my presence in hers.
I still have the pictures and the video footage. Watching her in slow motion makes me feel calm. I have so many photos of her looking right at me that I tried my goofy little photoshop move of flipping each half of her face to make her perfectly symmetrical. Each side of her visage was so different that she looked like two completely unfamiliar creatures in the resulting images. One of them looks dopey and slow, somehow soft and needing to be cared for. The other is straight predator, almost evil, sharp and staring into your soul seeking out the thing that scares you most. Looking at the two images I am reminded of the angel and devil on your shoulder, a motif represented and replayed many times in popular culture to remind us that we all have both good and evil inside of us. To imply that she is both good and evil is unfair. She simply is. Wild and wonderful. Slave to instinct and freedom. Much more familiar than I’d like to admit.