living with natural forces
My nightly walks are short and consistent so that I may check on the horses I care for. I know all my landmarks - the tall lines of the two barns, the arms of the fences, the fat grain silo, the squares of the tractor, and the jagged edge of the tree tops.
Out in the country, the stars seem to have center stage and when the moon shines down, it seems otherworldly. With everything encased in a silvery glow, sometimes the shadows come alive.
Inside, the horses wait for me to complete my routine of hay and water. The impatient ones knock at the door with their legs. The curious ones stare at me and when I open their door, will sniff heavily at the air about me. I welcome the attention at times and encourage them by running my hand down their neck but I always leave before they actually want me to.
Inside my cozy trailer, it is warm and when the wind lets loose, it presses down on my home. I tended to think that I would be lifted up just like Dorothy and wake up in a different place but after a while you get used to the place you call home. And all the different noises.
Every night is the same, more or less, depending on the presence of stars. I make my way through the dark. I bid my horses good night. I return home and eventually wander off to bed to drift into much needed sleep. However, one night, I awoke as if someone had shook me.
A sound I had never heard pierced the night and my heart beat loudly. There was no room to ignore or rationalize its voice that tore apart the dark quiet. I jumped out of bed and walked through my living room, wanting to hear it from its source. It was outside and it was howling. It sounded close.
I ran back to my bedroom and knelt at my window, lifting it up an inch to let the cold air filter the voice. It had to be a coyote. Its voice was strong but lilting in a way that a dog wouldn't think to do. Another voice answered farther off in the trees and I knew there had to be two and they were hunting.
I thought of the many deer that graced my view during the day. Their slim brown forms moved through the tall grass, their dark eyes ever aware. They seemed to know they were safe in this no hunting zone but if you were too close they would bound away on slim legs, sometimes stopping to look back at you, as if memorizing your identity and deciphering your intentions.
The coyote had one now. Almost as soon as the howling began, it was over and I knew that my deer had been captured as the sound ceased in a throaty growl.
There was no doubt about the coyote's intention. They called to each other clearly. I could picture the deer running through the dark forms of the trees. Was there more than one deer? Did one fall behind? I knew my questions would go unanswered. But as sure as I learned to read my nighttime landmarks, I knew instinctively that the coyote was doing what it knew. Its intentions were primal. And the deer acted accordingly, it ran for its life. During the day, it could afford to slow down to look back at me because I was silent and it truly did not understand me. But the coyote called out loudly, didn't care who it woke and let the deer know that it was being hunted. In an odd way, I felt at peace with the whole experience because I knew that this savage act of nature was fair.
I slept without dreams.