It was hot. I walked with the kids along the trails out back. We trudged along happily on the hot packed earth, taking a different path than usual and picking wildflowers.
My son, freshly bathed, decided to play in rich brown dirt on the side of the path, a brown sugar sandbox.
We got home from our walk, exhausted.
Later that night, as the pinkish-purple sky brought a breeze through the forest, I walked the dog. We meandered around the side path and then began to climb a rocky hill toward a gnarled pine, the wise old man I call him, when a coyote howled from the pond near home. It was about a mile away.
We moved faster to the top of the hill thinking maybe it was time to head back. Then came a shrieking bark that morphed into a howl, but this time from deeper in the woods, from the darker spots. It was followed fast by a yip, yip to the right.
It was definitely time to go home. Me and the dog hustled down the steep path, dodging jutting rocks at a risky pace. The dog, perhaps unnerved, barked loud a few times. I shushed him quickly and we hit the bottom of the hill at a jog. I looked behind me constantly.
When we were in sight of home, the coyote near the pond let out one last howl. It was still a distance away. We paused at the road and I caught my breath.
It’s one thing to hear there are coyotes close to the home. It’s another thing to experience them.