The Suitcase Lady


March 23, 2010, 2:22 pm

The coyotes were yipping up a storm when I was in Albuquerque recently. All day long as I went about my day’s tasks in that big, busy city, I was serenaded by exuberant coyote choruses.

We’ve got coyotes living near us, too, but they are much quieter. The eastern coyote has learned it is best not to call attention to itself.

Coyotes, North American natives, are among my favorite creatures, and I know why. They’re survivors… scrappy, scruffy, smart and funny. One delightful memory I retain from years ago is watching two little coyote pups wrestling, rolling and chasing each other out in the New Mexico desert.

Coyotes’ survival is enhanced by their eclectic food tastes. They often travel 50 miles a night to get dinner. Everything from bugs to watermelons to garbage is imbibed. Their rule appears to be, “If you’re hungry, eat it!”

Not wanting to supply snacks to our local coyotes, we do not let our herd of cats roam outdoors. However, the Tooley felines do have access to their huge, totally enclosed, outdoor play area.

While lacking the charisma of wolves, coyotes still have a huge hold on our human imaginations. Coyote is the wonder worker, transformer or trickster in the mythologies of almost every Native American tribe west of the Mississippi as well as of the Aztec and Maya. Coyote has been credited with placing the stars in the sky, dividing day and night, giving fire to people, teaching people to hunt, controlling the weather, putting salmon in the rivers and many other feats.

Naming children with “nature” names continues to be a trend in America, perhaps an unintended homage to the Native American practice. I meet Ravens, Forests, Rivers and Trees in the classrooms I visit. But I’ve never taught a Coyote. Pity.

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