Last year, 28 January 2017, I passed a coyote who had been recently hit by a car. Perfect and untrammeled, it had been grazed in the head but clearly dead. It’s undignified for an animal to die ignominiously and then be slowly run over again and again. It’s not the first time I have taken one home for proper burial.
In Champaign, Illinois on an extremely foggy day, I watched a great blue heron fly into power lines and fall to earth. Such an extraordinary bird with exotic plumage and size to render it royalty among avians, I suspect. Taking it home (for such a large creature it was amazingly light weight.) What now? I offered some prayers, as the occasion of a burial seems to deserve this, and plucked (after asking both permission and forgiveness) some feathers. They have remained with me and the countless feathers I have gathered in woodland walks.
The second time was in January as well. This time a fox. The road was dusted with snow and mine were the first tracks and the fox was outlined perfectly. I pulled over and lifted it to the side of the road. During the meeting, which was interesting because I told a story about picking up a hitch-hiker and my colleague from Hawai’i insisted I had had a visitation from Pele ( but that’s another story for later) I couldn’t stop thinking about the fox and dogs that would sniff and pee, and the dirty snow plowed on to it in drifts. So on the way home, I picked up the little carcass and took it home. Then I decided to skin it. Never having been schooled in this, I channeled the many people before me and realized, it isn’t rocket science. In nature’s elegant design, the fur can be removed from a second skin holding bones and organs intact. For the longest time I had the beautiful pelt, but a young dog and a move that produced invasive bugs and it was composted. The skull remains.
Finally the coyote. A female it turns out. For some reason I didn’t want to skin her. The ground was frozen and so she couldn’t be buried. Natural forces slowly provided the services, at various times of the year insects and I’m sure nocturnal critters took their part. She now is in my office, a reminder of life cycles. As a postscript, at mid summer, we noticed a young coyote pup hanging around, taking advantage of our water features and is a regular visitor on the coyote routes.
I like to think that the crazy howling at night and the shy trotting through the yard is part of a continuum to which I belong.
Finally, do you know about Coyote Network News? Perhaps you would enjoy checking it out.