Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Coyote Ugly

Photo: My dad and son contemplating rocks on my parents' beach. Wonder what ended up in their pockets?

A coyote ate my parent’s cat about ten days ago. Maggie, the beloved tabby lived the life of a panther, prowling my parents grounds like a predator. She served up a heavy dose of dead birds and maimed rats to the doorstep every morning until she met her fate in the probable mouth of a coyote. Poor, unwitting Maggie became an inevitable product of the same food chain of which she so prolifically participated.

My mother looks over her garden describing the coyotes’ paths through the thick blackberry brambles and up past the house with mild grief but also a bit of wonder and exhilaration about this close brush with wildlife. She and my dad made a deliberate choice to leave Ohio and retire on a rural, verdant island on Puget Sound in Washington five years ago, bringing a rush new experiences with the natural world.

Much of what we have discussed here at Leave No Trace in recent months has been about Leave No Trace’s role in the “increasing participation in the outdoors” national discussion. We’ve talk a lot about what it takes to invest families and youth in their natural environments and when and when Leave No Trace enters that picture. For my parents, who always felt a remote connection to the outdoors even if it was merely feeling the Midwestern humidity through the screen door are, late in their lives, awash in nature and developing a new relationship to it.

They have suddenly begun a conversation with me about the ethics of dragging driftwood from their beach. My mom read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods and wonders if I’m using it at work. They point out the invasive species overrunning their woods. They’re mad about the coyotes and the deer eating their tulips. My parents are the smallest case study in transformation. They have an increased relationship with their national world thus it is an enhanced, more attuned, more inquisitive one.

No comments: