Last night was Solstice and a full moon. There are a lot of reasons that this is important, some of them manmade, some of them not, but the Coyotes care very little for what we make or why we make such things and they know the full moon. Most humans might believe there is more danger than not in the brighter moon, at least for the creatures of the night but the Coyotes know that sight based beings are confused by the shadows in the darkness more than they are helped by the silver light. They have but to keep inside the canopy of the trees and skirt around the light of the moon.
At midnight, or perhaps later, I have no reason to wonder about time that deep into the night, Tyger Linn stood up on the bed and pointed her nose at the open window and read the wind as surely as you are reading this. There was no noise that she made, no reason to give a warning to the night air, and she waited. Tyger hesitated in the darkness to see what the older female, Lilith Anne, the Magnolia Mutt, would do. Lilith eventually noticed that Tyger Linn was waiting and she silently trotted over to the window and put her front paws on the sill and she too took in all the slight breeze could bring her. The Cousins finally awoke and realized that the Pibbles were alerted and now more than of a tenth of a ton of canine lumbered towards the back door. Tyger Linn took point, deftly leaping from the bed at a dead run, and passing the Cousins before they could reach the back door, left open to the night air. Lilith followed, and just as I was thinking about getting dressed the Coyotes began to yammer.
I knew better than to risk a war between the two factions without me there to make sure everyone stays on their side of the fence. The yammering suddenly ceases, just a few seconds into song, and the Coyotes realize the pack is outside, not inside, and it’s Tyger Linn’s voice that is raised now. Small, compact, athletic and the resident huntress, Tyger Linn is at the back of the property along the fence a full ten seconds before the Cousins and Lilith arrive. That’s an eternity in a fist fight between canines and I have time for jeans and shoes, and nothing else. Shotgun, six shells jammed into the back pockets of my jeans, and I’m over the railing of the deck at a dead run, too. I can hear the voices of the pack raised at the Southwest corner of the property and I head away from them, Southeast, because I know what the Coyotes are thinking.
The paved road snakes down towards Florida and to the Southwest and it creates a crescent whose tip reaches out in front of the driveway that eventually leads to our home. The Coyotes cross this road east of the house, north of the crescent, and the pack has halted their advance westwards. They’ll double back, crossing back over their own trail in case someone tries to track them by scent. I can see the pond east of the house perfectly and I aim low.
The first blast rips a hole in the sounds of the night just as if it were a physical being, released from its chains. It roars across the pond and a tight pattern of double ought buckshot scatters the moonlight away from the water and harmlessly into the raised bank of the pond. The frogs cease their song, the dogs stop barking, and the only sound is the ringing in my ears, but Tyger Linn is on the move, a striped torpedo heading east across the back of the property, snarling as she runs.
The Coyotes have been ambushed and they know it. The blast itself was enough to frighten them, but the idea that they would be boxed in between canines and cannon fire is too much. They have to split up, every dog for itself, and their formation is like leaves in the wind now. The Cousins are terrified of gunfire and they’ve slipped straight north, along the fence, to get back into the house. Lilith follows Lilith’s lead, a little slower, concerned about the noise.
Take a shell out and replace it. You could be wrong, this could be the night they invade, and you’ll need that shot. But there are no sounds now. Tyger Linn and Lilith return to me and both are pumped up at the action. Tyger lifts her nose, searches for the retreating pack, and she too moves towards the house. Her nose says it is over.
As of yet, I have never fired a shot directly at the Coyotes. For one, they’ve never offered an immediate or a direct threat. I also have never had a clear shot at any of them, even if I was inclined towards murder. But I want them to understand that within shotgun range of the fence is still our territory. They are not allowed within that range and we do not tread upon their ground within their domain. I wonder if they do not sometimes come inside just to see if we’re still paying attention or if they just want to test us, to see if we will push back and how hard, perhaps.
There is no sleep to be found on this Solstice so I concern myself with writing. The full moon brays a silent song, full of silver and shadows and the pond returns to reflect the moon without a ripple. Somewhere out there is a pack who might be bedding down for the night now, just as we are, no harm done to anyone, but the world we live in better defined than just a few minutes ago. I wonder how many Coyotes have lived and died in the fifteen years that I have been there and I wonder if they, too, miss the voices of the dogs who are no longer with me.