Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coyote Moon

On my way home from work, the moon cast silvery light through the dark shadowy trees. Its eerie beauty pleased me until the tires crunched along the dirt road to my house and the beams of my headlights lit the neighbors' garbage cans.

Dang. Garbage day tomorrow.

I backed into my garage, slammed on the brakes and heaved open the door, racing inside to gather the wastebaskets. Bathrooms, HobieCat and Schooner's room (they seem to make a lot of garbage), kitchen, garage, twelve Starbucks cups from my car, and a bunch of little packing
pellets from a cardboard box. I hauled it all outside
and splayed my hands, blindly batting the inky black for the obsidian plastic can. I felt the frosty lid and ripped it off, jamming in the spoils of my trash hunt.

The spindly wheels crackled across the frost-covered asphalt as I dragged it up the hill and around the center island to the end of the driveway, about a hundred feet from the house. Tall douglas fir trees and western red cedars blocked the moon's welcome light and I shivered in the 40 degree air, wishing I'd remembered to put on my jacket. When I reached what might be the end of the driveway, I tapped with my toe until the firm sound of leather against pavement was replaced by the tentative bite of leather on rocky dirt.

I set the can upright and began inching my way back toward the house. In the distance my garage light beckoned, but cast no light upon my path. And then I heard it. The threatening yip of a coyote, not far off. I froze and peered through the dark, my heart punching into overdrive. The whining wail whipped up the hair on the back of my neck and gooseflesh prickled along my arms. Another bellowing bark joined the first. They were moving in for the kill. In moments I expected the frenzied yelps as the pack closed in on the hapless victim.

My feet kicked into motion and I sprinted the last fifty feet, slipping on a patch of moss, recovering, sliding down the last of the driveway into the garage. I pounded the button and the garage door sprang to life, lowering in agonizing apathy, while my breathing burst forth in white puffs.

Before the automatic door finished its laborious task, I flew into the house and slammed the door, leaning back against it, sucking in gulps of air. I've lost pets to the coyotes. Everyone around here has. Even if you've never heard it before, when you hear the deranged, maddened yipping of coyotes making a kill, you know what it is. I knew HobieCat and Schooner were inside. They don't go out. Ever. But some poor creature met its end tonight, and my heart feels grief.


  1. SCARY!!!!!! We have them in our neck of the woods too. A neighbor who doesn't have a fenced in yard almost lost her norfolk terrier to one. When ever da boyz go out at night we have lights on. Even though the back yard is fenced. That is one of the worst sounds I can think of.

  2. That was a very effective piece of writing. You really made me feel as if I were struggling out to the end of the driveway before my night vision had kicked in. And then the wail. Gulp. And racing back indoors while feeling that menace close behind. Excellent.

  3. I don't know what scared me most; the thought of the coyotes attacking me or the desperate desire not to HEAR them attacking their prey.

  4. dang. I was going to write about the tree frog stuck to the glass of my storm door this morning. He jumped off just before I had to leave for work and I was pretty nervous making my way to the car in the 65 degree misty dawn. dang.

  5. Karen,

    I have to admit, I'd rather deal with coyotes than that banana spider or the snakes you have to deal with. Even the tree frogs make my skin crawl.

    But 65 degree mornings? Now you are just bragging.

  6. That's a pretty freakin' scary picture there....

  7. Gosh, it can't be much worse than FLB. Anyone reading this would need to go to to understand this comment.

  8. well, we found bear poop in our yard a week ago. That will make you stop and think before going out in the dark and make sure your animals are in.

  9. Okay, that is IT. Do you suppose I could hire some retired guy to come during the day and drag my can up to the gravel road?

  10. Well, now you're being sexist. What's wrong with a retired woman?

  11. Kathy,

    Absolutely I'd be willing to hire a retired woman. No sexism here, nosiree. Are you retired Kathy? Would you be interested in the job? Of course, I'd only pay you 78 cents on the dollar...

    Editor's Note: Melanie Sherman is joking. She is referring to the national wage gap between men and women as stated in the Center for American Progress article at


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