Jack ThumbnailBy Jack McShane

Summer doldrums do not exist in the wild lands of Andes. The wild is eternal and life can be fleeting as recent observations attest: a fawn taken by a bear, a turtle’s eggs raided by a raccoon, a fledgling bluebird carried off by a crow. The list goes on, but the species: deer, turtles, and bluebirds all survive, showing the resilience of nature.Picture7

I thought I would let an Andes neighbor speak for himself and, being somewhat of a long-winded sort with a lot to say and lament about, it turns out that it will take two parts to get his full message across. Here is part one:

“Thank you McShane for giving me some of your space, and now let me introduce myself to your readers. I am a middle-aged (about four or five years old, not really sure as my species don’t count) coyote often called “Wiley” by you Homo Sapiens or “Sap” as we like to call you all. Some of you may have caught a glimpse of me as I wander far and wide around and through the old fields, pastures, and forests and quite often in some of your own backyards here in Andes. You hear me, but don’t see me very often as I am stealthy and nocturnal by nature often traveling with my family and friends nearby as we search and hunt for sustenance. We are relatively new to the area, as are most of you, migrating east from the plains of the Midwest where we were, and continue to be, persecuted by you folks who trapped, shot, poisoned and used other cruel methods to kill off my forbears. Well, you know what Mother Nature gave us, the gift of increasing our fertility when persecuted, having 7 or 8 pups rather than our normal 2 or 3, so we thrived through your onslaught. As our numbers continued to grow, some of us decided to move East, and let me tell you. this migration was not easy. Many lost their lives on those damn toll roads that you Saps installed. And you run those machines so fast that we can’t even know they are coming. One small benefit is road kill of other creatures that we feast on, all at dangerous locations for a free buffet. Some traveled south of the Great Lakes and some went north above and met some nice gray wolves up there and they hooked up and interbred. So as we moved on we were much larger than our friends who stayed in the west. Some of you Saps, when you see us, think we are wolves and become very fearful. Good! Leave us alone! We have never attacked you and actually want nothing to do with you, although we love feeding on your free ranging cats and puppy dogs.

“So now you know my heritage and now I will tell you about my life as a coyote here in the hills of Andes. My day begins as I awaken, tucked in my den far up on the ledges, on land “owned” by McShane. By the way he doesn’t own it, we all own it. It is about six in the evening starting my nights, as I am what you Saps call a nocturnal beast, and yes, I do love wandering and hunting in the dark. Many of you Saps are afraid of the dark, maybe not the dark so much but what might be in the dark. Well, that’s good for me as I can do my wandering and hunting without being bothered by you folks too much. As I am getting ready for my rounds let me tell you a little about my personal life. I am solitary now as my mate who, with me, raised four pups, passed away two years ago because of something called heartworm.Picture6 Seems it’s something we coyotes get when there are too many of us, this decided by Mother Nature. I was very sad when she passed. I remember how she lay down by the edge of a field that we often hunted together and I brought her a fresh-killed mouse, but she wouldn’t eat it. I just lay down beside her; she never got up. I visited her a couple of times but then I just gave up and moved on. I go by that place often in my wanderings and sometimes stop there as this is a sacred place for me. I am now in search of another mate and leave my sign here and there, so maybe a wandering female might come by and take note and possibly we might hook up.

“After I get out of my den the first thing I do is relieve myself where other coyotes may travel so that all know this is my territory, at least until I die, or another male bigger than me, a dude you folks call an alpha male, chases me off. When there is fresh snow it can slow me down but it can also show me were some of my food critters are headed. It shows me where a feathered competitor like an owl has taken out a mouse: the tiny tracks and the marks of the wings hitting on the snow, the little depression and a spot of blood. Even McShane could analyze that. It is a beautiful cool evening that will soon be pitch dark as it is of the “new moon” with no moon showing. You will hear my howls. I do this for communication with friends, family and even enemy intruders on our territory, not the moon, as many of you may think. Excuse me a moment. I smell a mouse or a vole in that little hump of grass, and I’m jumping onto it like this: fast scratching and, see, I got him. I just swallowed him up whole, real good. I know some of your scientific folk collect my scat so as to determine my diet by the bones and hair of the critters I eat that get passed on through me. You Saps want to know all about me and I’m taking this opportunity to tell you about me from my point of view. Until next time, that is if McShane and the editors allow. Regards, Wiley.”

Wiley asked to include this from “The Magic Flute”:

I’d like to find a sweetheart,

A pretty little wife,

To join me in the forest

And be my mate for life.~