I’m considering a new blog/Twitter/everything-else-social-media name:
Runs with Coyotes.
Because that’s what I did today. Ran with a coyote. Though it would be more accurate to say that I ran from a coyote, I suppose.
For months, I’ve joked about being afraid to run around my very safe, very densely-populated, suburban, golf course-adjacent neighborhood in the dark due to having heard that we have a “coyote problem” in our area. (I’m also a little concerned about gators, but I stick to the side of the roads farthest from the water hazards and assume I’ll be okay.) I knew they were around, but I never really thought I’d see one.
Oh, they’re there, all right.
The heat of Florida summer’s been dragging me down, killing any desire to run at all, let alone run fast, after work. I so look forward to my Saturday long runs, when I get out there around 7:00 a.m., before the sun’s had a chance to turn the asphalt into a blazing carpet of sticky, smelly torridness. So I thought it might be time to move my short, mid-week runs to the before-work slot in order to take advantage of cooler temps, no sun and no retirement crowd post-happy hour traffic.
That’s how I wound up running at 5:00 a.m. today. I’d had an okay run by the 25-minute mark – nothing to put in the record books, but a good workout and a fun time listening to the latest Another Mother Runner podcast. With only five minutes to go, I came up on the turn off the gold course road and into my condo complex and there she was – an adult coyote strolling across the road, not 20 feet ahead of me. She stopped. I slowed down. We stared at each other for what felt like minutes, though I’m sure it was less than a full second. And then she darted across the road, up a rise toward the 18th hole, where she paused to look my way once more before running out of sight. Me? I ran my fastest time ever – a sub-8:00 mile pace – for a few more minutes, until I was sure she wasn’t coming back with her canine posse to make an early morning breakfast out of me.
Apparently, what I should have done was stand my ground, wave my arms around and yell; I should have let the coyote know who was boss and that she’s not welcome in the neighborhood. I did none of that. I slowed down, may even have stopped entirely, and watched her in silence. I’ve joked throughout the morning about being scared out of my skull, and there was a moment of icy fright, I’ll admit. But mostly I was silenced by awe. Awe at her speed and grace, at her soundless flight into the darkness. Awe for her ability to adapt to an environment the polar opposite of the Great Wide Open in which we traditionally place the image of “Coyote.” Awe at my own sense of calm elation, at the privilege of witnessing one of nature’s gifts.
We had a moment, the coyote and I.
I just hope “nature’s gift” didn't eat the neighbor’s cat.