Coyotes in the Rose Garden

Spring has sprung, and Mother Nature is celebrating. My flowering red currants are hanging garlands of tiny pink blooms, grass is sprouting green across my lawn (and through cracks in the concrete), and wildlife is frolicking in my garden. My rose garden to be precise.

Last night at about 3 a.m. my dogs went berserk. We’re talking howling, racing from one end of the house to the other, clawing paint off doors and window sills. A quick sniff …fire did not crackle in the corners, housebreakers had not splintered doors or windows, an earthquake had not tilted the structure.

The threat was the first wave of the spring siege.

Without turning on lights, I groused my way out of bed. My daughter met me at the foot of the stairs. “Coyotes,” she said. “Three of them. In the rose garden.”

And there they were. Three thin, doggy outlines against the streetlight, having a confab among the budding canes of my tea roses. And our three pups were frantic to get to them. I don’t know whether they were looking for a family reunion or a brawl, but despite their hysteria, we stayed safely put and watched.

For a few seconds, they milled about, dark, lean shadows with quick impatient movements. Emmett howled beside me. The coyotes made an instant decision, leapt over the fence and loped down the side road towards the river ravine a half-mile away. It was ages before our dogs would let it go and settle.

It was awhile before I relaxed and settled too.

I love nature, but spring stirs my blood and I am intimidated by Mother Nature’s all out party. This is the time of year I feel the presence of Bacchus and his maenads. Exuberance, growth, frantic love. Life and death while life explodes everywhere. The crystal air alone makes me drunk with well-being.

My neighborhood is semi-rural – pastures and stands of old trees abound, but a shopping center and Starbucks are a 5 minute drive. Insignificant as the season goes wild.

A couple of days ago, the dogs treed a male pheasant. Beautiful bird. Dreadful squawker. Yesterday, a pair of wood ducks paddled happily in the pond along with a trio of mallards. Both wood ducks and pheasants are rare around here.

I have a huge brush pile that was supposed to be burned down, but now is alive with nesting songbirds. They hop in and out between the tumbled branches and twigs, dry grass and moss clamped in their beaks. Their chirps and twitters give way at night to the region’s Pacific tree frogs – a nightly, deafening mating choruses. Hooting owls provide counterpoint.

And I wander. Among the trees, through the grass, feeling the budding leaves and sneezing at the opening flowers. I look for signs of the lives that share my patch of ground – even my rose garden. Senses heighten. Heart pounds.

Spring fever consumes me at last.



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