Sunday, July 03, 2005

feed the tree, pt. 3

last saturday i was rudely awakened by a sustained blast of chainsaw, as our neighbor across the street finally got around to disposing of the giant stump left behind when his massive old tree fell across the road as the result of imprudent construction work (and not poor pruning, as earlier surmised). the roaring was unbelieveably loud and long, alternating, when it did stop, with the dull metallic thunk of a sledgehammer. for about a half an hour i managed to hold off consciousness by jamming in the earplugs and shoving pillows up against my ears, but eventually the buzzing of a thousand pterodactyl-size bees won out.

it reminded me of the poor tree's unexpected demise and the bummer we felt over something so seemingly immortal dying so suddenly, just being irrevocably gone. plus, its leafy expanse was a damn sight nicer to look at than the unremarkable stucco-sided home it once disguised, which is now in clear view. sigh. sad. yet, lo and behold on saturday, when it was all over but the grunting of the guys moving the stump-chunks out of the neighbor's driveway, there stood behind the small-but-sturdy twin trunks of the tree's offspring. "cool," i said. "son of tree." it seemed a rare moment of promise in a world gone bleakest.

and this saturday evening i had another type of rare-but-wondrous moment, one of those canyon encounters that are at once routine and surprising. it was around late evening, still light out but no direct sun. in the bedroom, i went to close the vertical blinds on the patio door and was idly musing that it had been a while since i'd seen any beasts in the backyard other than birds and squirrels. no deer for a long time. then i looked out and saw a coyote! she was standing not 20 feet away on the hill, unaware of me. i spotted another one skulking in the brush higher up the hill, on the deer path above the property. it was kinda scruffy-looking like an adolescent, as though in between its baby fur and adult coat. i called for 00soul to come see, and for the next several minutes we watched the closer one, so close i could see her tawny-pale eyes, the bushiness of her tail, her distinctive and beautiful markings. seeing one so near gave me a chance to watch how it moved: she looked rather like a dog, yet was so not like a dog, and almost feline in certain respects.

the blinds were still open, so eventually she noticed us looking; she started back a bit, eyes never leaving us, but she didn't really freak out. it was more like she was caught by surprise, having not expected to be watched, rather than that she was afraid. she definitely sized us up, moving back and forth a little in her stance, but her gaze was purely assessing and quite uncowed. we just stood there, looking back. it was thrilling. she finally walked a little higher up the hill and to the south a bit, got low down near a big tree root, and pissed on the ground. it seemed like some gesture of defiance or turf-marking, but who knows? maybe she just had to pee. we kept watching the coyotes until they moved out of sight ... prowling for chow, i suppose. but it's the wrong side of the street for that; all the pets round here live on the other side.

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