The Best Of Mark: "Coyote Morning"

Originally Shared on Monday, October 11, 2010

I was going to take my message prompt this week from the miraculous rescue of the Chilean miners —until my morning run around the Rose Bowl yesterday. 

“Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and numbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me ‐ I am happy.”
— ­­Hamlin Garland, American Author (1860­1940)

I met my running buddy as usual in Lot K for our two laps around the Rose Bowl. We started out promptly at 5am in the light drizzle, perfect running weather for a run. The early hour and the rain meant we had the whole path to ourselves.

We got out about a mile on the far east side of the Rose Bowl. That’s also the darkest spot, where there are tall trees and no street lights. Pitch darkness.  About fifty yards in front of us we see an animal we take for a dog but we quickly see it is a coyote. If you’re a runner or early morning walker you see a lot of coyotes out there, so this in itself was nothing special. But this coyote was special.

Normally when you encounter a coyote he runs off. They have an acute sense of smell and vision and this coyote could easily detect that we were plumpish middle­aged men. Certainly he did not size us up as food. But neither did he see us for what humans usually are—a threat. The coyote stood his ground in the middle of the path and just stared at us.

We stopped our run and just looked at him expecting him to run off. But the coyote would not budge. It was as if he was telling us this path belonged to him. Rather than run off, the coyote stepped off to the side of the path about twenty feet and then stopped and turned around again, as if to indicate we should pass. We walked tentatively passed him and only when we cleared him did the coyote run off. As we began to run again, I said to my friend, “It belongs to him.”

Indeed it is.  Long before there was a Rose Bowl or even a road, the arroyo belonged to the coyote. It occurred to me while I was sweating out the rest of my six miles, that long after my very last run, after the Rose Bowl itself crumbles, the coyote will still be there. For just one moment on one morning I thought about how that coyote taught me how I really fit into this world, rather than how it fits me.

It seemed to me this thought is the beginning of anything I would call sustainability.

In hope and heart, Mark