Suburban Wilderness

One evening at dusk my husband glanced out the windows onto the backyard and saw two adult coyotes loping by. As we rushed to secure our mini-dachshund inside I’m not sure I really believed they were actually coyotes. We both hurried out to the back fence to get a better look.

Just as I caught sight of them, a couple of backyards past ours, one turned to look back at us.

The animal was unflinching, bold, and one of the most beautiful wild creatures I’d ever seen. He stared at the two ridiculous humans as if contemplating our nutritional value, then turned and continued down the canal with his mate.

Living along one of many criss-crossing Phoenix canals has been an educational experience. We live in a somewhat densely-populated, suburban neighborhood, 10 minutes from downtown. The Highline Canal runs parallel to South Mountain, borders our backyard, and provides a convenient route for wildlife and humans alike between the mountain wilderness and the suburbs.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see one of the most beautiful, and dangerous, inhabitants of the wild southwest outside my backdoor. Because of their lush, grey-brown coats, highlighted with gold, cream and black, and black-rimmed unblinking yellow eyes, coyotes are often romanticized by humans into a noble beast. They are, in truth, quick and smart but also driven by their natural instincts to hunt food wherever they can find it, be it sheep, ground squirrel, or a small pet. Admittedly, we humans are intruding into their natural habitat, and they have become fearless and not easily discouraged.

I cannot describe my feelings as I came eye to eye with this truly wild animal. It was electric! I can only say that seeing such a wild, albeit dangerous, creature in photos or on TV is nothing compared to seeing one live and free.

I consider the experience a gift.

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