Many, many moons ago I created a blog called Dough, Dirt, & Dye which was all about bread baking, gardening, and the greeting cards I was then producing for my Etsy shop, Empty on the Inside. It was also an outlet for my “creative” writing, but somewhere along the way (not long after I started An Unrefined Vegan) I ran out of steam and decided to let DDD ride gracefully off into the sunset. I made the classic first-time blogger mistake of trying to write a post every single day and it was just too much. I have a great deal of fondness for my first blog, however, as well as for some of the posts I wrote so I’m occasionally going to share some of them here. My first offering (originally published July 4, 2011) is below (with slight modifications). It’s a short piece about one of my favorite animals, the underrated and much maligned coyote.
Do Coyotes Fear The Sound of Fireworks?
What’s the matter? Coyote get your deer?
– bumper sticker, via Edward Abbey
All along the back roads and state routes of Oklahoma are small white-washed shacks painted with exploding rockets and bursting stars decorating the decaying wood siding. They are shuttered most of the year, but come to life on and around July 4th. They sell fireworks. Throughout the long weekend, distant pops and sizzles can be heard and occasionally we see flashes in the sky as bright beads of sparks soar, flare briefly and fall to earth as tiny dark spots.
Today I’m thinking about coyotes. I’m thinking about the young family of coyotes living somewhere to the north of us, in the woods, or maybe to the west of us, in the grassy hollows, in a large den dug into the roots of a big tree. If we’re lucky, there are coyote families in both places.
Do coyotes fear the sound of fireworks the way our family dog, Violet, did, running to find the nearest dark place to hide? Or do they just howl in response the way they do when a train whistle blows? Maybe the sounds resemble the sound of a shotgun, in which case, they know to run and hide.
There are a lot of folks in Oklahoma who hate coyotes more than just about anything. Coyotes are routinely shot, poisoned and trapped. Some idiots even hang the lifeless bodies from barbed wire fences, a ridiculous and futile warning to other interlopers, as if coyotes recognize fences and property lines. Or maybe it’s misplaced pride in their kill. Ranchers say that coyotes kill their calves and I say coyotes mostly eat rodents and only cull out the ill or the dying among cattle, performing a needed function on the range. Ranchers complain that coyote lovers always rely on emotion-based logic and we coyote defenders fume that ranchers use the same myopic price-per-head-of-cattle reasoning. So the same arguments spin out over and over and over again and coyotes keep getting shot and hung from barbed wire fences.
What I know is that coyotes are safe on our land. I wish I could communicate that to the coyote family, tell them to stay here, that I welcome their hunting and their howls and yips in the night when I’m lucky enough to hear them, their loping trots across our fields, quick but not hurried – when I’m lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one.