Hidden Springs is the home of Transdisciplinary Ecologist Tom Baugh. Named for the springs that flow in the hollow below the house, Hidden Springs is also a metaphor for those many streams of intellect, creativity, and sensitivity that flow from each of us.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Coyote Stories I
The coyote, Canis
latrans has been as much a part of my family life as my brothers and my
sister. I spent my childhood in Southern
California during and following the Second World War. Early in my Middle School years my family relocated
to the San Gabriel Valley at the base of the San Sierra Madre Mountains. Things were much different in the LA Basin at
that time. There were fewer of us and
much more open land. From the back of
our bright new post-war home to the base of the mountains were hundreds of
acres of orange groves and thousands of acres of oak scrub and brush. There were dove and quail, and rabbits and
raptors. There were also the coyotes. I learned to listen for these little wolves
and to watch for them along the sides of the dirt roads that, at that time,
still crisscrossed the fields and orchards of Southern California. During high school others things captured my
attention, and imagination, and I didn't think so much about the coyotes. But
they were never far away and I would hear the yips and howls of what author
Jack Couffer calls the Song of Wild
Laughter on my way to an early morning college class or to my job washing
dish and bussing tables in a small, local restaurant.
My work with federal natural resource management
agencies brought me East and along with me came the coyotes spreading across land they have once occupied. From Washington, DC, to
Florida, to Georgia, and now to North Carolina, this ubiquitous little wolf has
only been a walk at first light, a full moon, or a shadowy glimpse away.
For several years I served as Steward at Bat Fork Bog Plant Conservation Preserve, a small
native plant preserve almost in the center of Hendersonville, North Carolina. It did not take me long to realize that
coyotes were among my companions at the preserve. The Preserve is located only a kilometer,
possibly a bit more, from downtown Hendersonville and only a few blocks from
the main fire station. The coyotes liked the fire station; they especially like the sound of the sirens as the large red
trucks lumber out of their barn-like shelter and roar-off on their missions of
mercy. The coyotes often accompany the
sirens with their high-pitched howls. I
remember one of the neighbors living on the high ground to the west of the
Preserve asking me if I was afraid of coyotes.
I told him I wasn't and he said "good, cause you sure have a lot of
them in there," gesturing toward the boggy lowlands below us.