It’s Gratituesday! On Monday morning I wrote up this little missive and decided to wait and share it with you today. It sums up my gratitude for this week quite nicely.
I forgot to set my alarm last night, but my brain knew when time to wake up arrived and rousted me from dreaming anyway. Good thing, too.
It stormed a bit overnight, so the humidity soared and the desert heat cooled somewhat. Remnants of clouds still hung out on the horizon in every direction. I got some picturesque shots of the sun and sky dancing like they do some mornings. Corals, golds, a touch of silver with an azure backdrop.
Besides capturing sunrise photos, I keep my eyes alert hoping to sight an elusive family or two of Quail, or perhaps my favorite bird the Night Heron. The Hummingbirds have been extra active lately zipping about catching insects. It’s a typical morning walk for me.
Until it isn’t anymore.
Off to the right in a small pond, stood my friend the coyote. I see him about once or twice a week in different spots throughout the Preserve. He was standing half in and half out of the water, looking intently into the bushes to the north. It would make a nice photo, so I stopped to line up a shot.
The coyote bounded like a rabbit toward the bushes, playful and boisterous. I’d never seen him do that before. Suddenly he raced back toward the pond edge. Then he wagged his tail and pounced forward again. His head and shoulders clearly searching the brush for a glimpse of something. A leap, a tail wag, and more bouncing. Then he kept his hind quarters up and leaned his front end to the ground, like a pup ready to chase a stick. He was playing a game with something in the bushes.
I stood there mesmerized watching this coyote revel in a game he’d made up. Then, suddenly he pulled his tail between his legs and raced back to the water. Then he ran east, as if the game had come to an abrupt end. He wandered toward the back side of the bushes he’d been so interested in, when another coyote appeared. Larger, and looking somewhat menacing, ears back, body low to the ground and moving lower, as if ready to launch at some prey.
Uh oh. I thought. The younger coyote’s ears perked up, his tail wagged, he ran back and forth not ten feet away from the larger one’s attack stance. Then the ears perked up on the bigger coyote, the pup raced in large circles, jumping and dancing, prodding the other to play.
Mother and child. That’s what this was.
The younger coyote raced and raced, tail wagging, delight in every movement, until the older one slunk back into the bushes. They fell out of sight, momentarily emerging to race into the water briefly, then they were gone.
What a gift to see such wild abandon not a mile from my front door.
The rest of my ninety minute walk hummed with the joy of what I’d experienced. Sure, sweat dripped off my head and hair, ran down my back, soaked my clothes. And yet, a breeze blew down the path occasionally, working with the damp on my body to create a miniature swamp cooler bringing temporary relief from the morning’s desert heat. I welcomed every patch of shade offered, lost count of the rabbits and crossed paths with very few humans. I hesitated to end my walk even as the temperature rose and fatigue increased.
I didn’t want to let go of what I’d felt, what I’d seen in those rare and, yes, sacred moments between mother and child.
Nothing compares to that ephemeral time shortly before and just after the sun rises. The earth transforms from dark night to a brief otherworldly dimension of surprise and wonder.
Such a morning makes any shortage of sleep a very minor inconvenience and fills me with a sense of gratitude that ought to last a very long time.