Tag Archives: coyotes

Degrees of Coyoteness by Patricia Karamesines


This is a rewrite of a post published here on WIZ that I’m including in my book Crossfire Canyon. I’m posting the rewrite today in response to finding a bounty-killed coyote on this morning’s walk.

April 8, 2009. As I walked out of a nearby canyon last week along a trail where I had previously encountered a curious coyote, my nose detected gases given off by putrefaction. Somewhere nearby, bacteria were at work breaking down formerly living tissue to simpler matter, dispersing an organism’s worldly good to its biological heritors.

To this we must all come. But who has come to it now, and where?

Walking deeper into the field of decomposition gases, I searched the ground, guessing what I would find. I was approaching the gravel pit, a dumping ground for domestic and wild animal carcasses and the scene of occasional war crimes of the sort some people commit against animals. It’s common to find coyote remains around the pit, along with elk and deer carcasses, tree prunings, the ashes of bonfires, articles of clothing, and aerosol cans–the residue of “huffing” parties.

My eyes had difficulty picking out the body of the coyote because his full winter regalia of desert-soils-hued fur blended in well where he had been dumped against the weathered juniper barricade a rancher erected decades ago to prevent cattle from wandering. I’m guessing the coyote was an adult male because of the animal’s size. Wind ruffled the luxuriant fur, and my own hand felt drawn to touch. But I didn’t. Touching the coyote might spark a response that under the circumstances I wasn’t prepared to support. Continue reading Degrees of Coyoteness by Patricia Karamesines

The Slaying of Trickster Gods by Steven L. Peck

Click for larger image.  Photo by marya (mdot)
Click for larger image. Photo by marya (emdot)


When two universes collide
one is destroyed, or
is it
in the wind,
like a seed to come
forth later?
The other however
folds in on itself,
a topological twisting,
until it engulfs itself and
is gone.

Coyote-Man, it seems, never
learned how to deal
with motorized vehicles.
They escaped his desert
Hasje-altye—Talking God—
never prepared him for
the intrusion.
The invasion.
But who’s to blame?
Who would have believed that
and carbon
seduced from the earth
could be
combined to bring
forth such a monster—
such an engulfer? Continue reading The Slaying of Trickster Gods by Steven L. Peck

“Sonoran Atonement” by Angela Morrison

Dusted red stone
wrapped in gray deluge
yields greened cliffs shimmering
like an unearthly vision
in sunshine’s morning haze.

Silver gray brush bears yellow blossom cascades.
Stands of ocotillo—no longer barren,
barricaded with thorns—
blush tiny green leaves until
burnt orange petals burst from their fingertips.

Drying mesquite scents air
alive with the rush of rabbits, cooing doves,
the hawk’s hunting cry, coyotes’ eerie babble,
silent lizards thawing on hot rocks,
a snake’s mysterious rustle.

In desert’s spring, even the tough-skinned saguaro,
that towers through time—scarred, but sustained—
blooms pure white perfection to celebrate
the joy of renewal, hope of rebirth,
cleansing rains of sorrow,
and seeds of forgiveness sown
precious drop by precious drop,
beneath a verdant olive
for me.


Young adult novelist and poet, Angela Morrison, graduated from Brigham Young University and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of the Arts. She grew up in Eastern Washington on the wheat farm where her debut YA novel, TAKEN BY STORM (Penguin/Razorbill 2009), is set. TAKEN BY STORM is a collage of poetry, dive log entries, and online chat transcripts and stars an authentic LDS girl. Her second novel, SING ME TO SLEEP (Penguin/Razorbill 2010) features a lyric writing heroine. “Beth’s Song” from the novel was recently released on iTunes by Primus: Amabile Men’s Choir. Angela wrote the lyrics for Harriet Bushman’s choral jazz oratorio, “Gideon,” that premiered in January, 2010 in Kuwait and was a contributing poet for Harriet’s 2006 concert opera, “1856: the Long Walk Home” performed on Temple Square to commemorate the Martin/Willie Handcart Tragedy Sesquicentennial. After eleven years abroad in Canada, Switzerland and Singapore, Angela and her family are happily settled in the heart of the Sonoran Desert in Mesa, AZ.

*Contest entry*

Smarter than we think

I love stories like this.

The “Wow-ee!” response of the scientists involved would make for an interesting study, as well as the “maybe it’s the first example of invertebrate tool use but maybe it isn’t” facet of the story.

Everything is smarter than we think and has the prospect of becoming smarter, including us, if we could just get over thinking we’re smarter than we actually are. Continue reading Smarter than we think

Kittens, anyone?

One night last week I was out late on the back porch pushing my special needs daughter up and down the porch in her wheelchair.  My husband was out there, too, and we were talking.  The porch is a rickety, second-story affair, so it creaks as I walk.  The wheelchair rattles.  If our neighbors here lived as close to us as our neighbors in Payson or Provo did, somebody would probably complain that we make too much noise late at night.  Here, everyone sleeps comfortably distant from each other.  I can walk out on the back porch anywhere from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. with a contrary child and not fear that I’m causing a disturbance.

So there I was, walking, talking.  Then I heard below the plaintive mewling of kittens.  Looking over the railing, I saw them creep around the corner of the house, following my voice, my creak, my rattle–one dark one and one dark and white one, at least.  We dispatched the kids to fetch the kittens.  They brought in two younguns, a grey tabby, very compact of body, and a larger grey and white kitten with very big ears.  They were lost–quite possibly abandoned–they were cold, and, in our stretch of the woods, they were imperiled–walking popcorn chicken for hungry owls and coyotes.  We brought them inside.

They’re about eight weeks old and very energetic.  They litter-trained right away.  Of course, they exude cuteness and are, in my opinion, above-average innocent.  They’ve been in the house for several days now, and besides pulling pranks like chewing the blossom stem off my daughter’s beloved carnivorous sundew plant, walking on computer keyboards and wreaking other mild, housebound-mammal havoc, they seem like nice cats.  We enjoy them.

The problem is, we already have four adult cats, which is about as much as I think this house and yard can handle.   That led me to wonder if anybody out there in bloggerland might like to adopt a couple of kittens.  I hope that anyone interested in taking one cat might take the other as well, because they’re sisters and they love each other.   I understand that taking on two cats is rather more than most people care to do.  But after watching the social behavior of the horse herd behind our house, seeing how the wild turkeys watch out for each other, spying from a cliff on a herd of romping mule deer in the canyon below, and observing the dynamics in play between our four grown-up cats, I have come to feel somewhat uncomfortable with the casual human practice of splitting up animal families.

Of course, the young of many kinds of animals disperse on their own.  For instance, around this time of year, young coyotes leave the home den looking for their own territories.  The coyote population of an area is density dependent; that is, if an area already supports as many coyotes as it can, the half-grown pups drift like seeds on the wind, looking for advatageous ground in need of more coyotes. 

But these animals we’ve taken under our tutelage, stirring the pot of their genetic stories, employing in our service as workers and companions–they’re a different story.  Cats, dogs, horses, cows–all the so-called domesticated species–it’s probably time we reconsider how we affect their lives and communities.

So … kittens, anyone?

Field Notes #5

From time to time, someone asks why I don’t write about the meaner, nastier side of nature, especially the predator-prey drama.  Until I go on that man-eating African lion-hunting trip or bag me an Alaskan grizzly or happen to be on hand when a puma takes down a mule deer buck, I just don’t have much to offer on predator vs. prey.  Sorry.

However, something did come to mind the other day, musings upon a kind of predator-prey relationship that I jotted down in my hiking journal as I strolled through Crossfire.  It isn’t pretty, but I thought I’d pass it along.

Warning: This post shows Patricia in a mood.  If you’re in a mood today,  you might want to skip this one.   

May 21, 2009

Overcast, humid, cooler-that-has-been morning.  I set out for Coyote Way, the trail leading down into Crossfire Canyon.  As usual, I pass my mouldering friend, the dead coyote  lying off to one side of the trailhead.  I stop to look at him whenever I take this path.  

After a month of decompostion he looks considerably worse for wear, though that lovely triangular earform still holds up well.  Gone, the shine and softness his coat had when he was first dumped.  Matted patches have loosened, as if he were going through a heavy shed, or they have been peeled back in the course of some other scavenger’s work.  A gaping entrance into his inner cavern has formed in his side.   His coat has taken on the patina of old carpet across whose nap mud has been tracked and into whose fibers a wide variety of liquids has soaked.  The flies that earlier clouded his vicinity have gone through their cycle; no insects are visible, though something must be creeping through the body. Every time I stop here, I wonder how and why this animal died.  Anything could have happened, but the dominant reason folks kill these animals—if, in fact, he was killed—can usually be summed up in this word: competition.

 A week ago, winds blowing up out of the canyon carried the scent of the coyote’s chemical crush into the earth.  Today, cliffrose pollen lightly perfumes breezes swirling past. Continue reading Field Notes #5

Degrees of Coyoteness

As I walked out of a nearby canyon last week using the same trail where I reported having an encounter with a curious coyote, my nose detected gases given off by putrefaction.  Somewhere nearby, bacteria were at work breaking down formerly living tissue to simpler matter, dispersing an organism’s worldly goods to its biological heritors.

To this we must all come.  But who has come to it now, and where?    

Walking deeper into the field of decomposition gases, I looked around, guessing what I would find.  I was approaching the gravel pit, a dumping ground for domestic and wild animal carcasses and the scene of occasional war crimes of the sort some people commit against animals.  It’s common to find coyote remains around the pit, along with elk and deer carcasses, tree prunings, the ashes of bonfires, articles of clothing, and aerosol cans—the residue of “huffing” parties. Continue reading Degrees of Coyoteness

Field notes #1

Posts in this series are semi-polished exerpts from the pocket-sized hiking journal I carry when I go out walking in local canyons, etc.  If something interesting happens or a bolt from the blue strikes, I pull out the old journal and get down the basics.  I’ve left Field Notes elsewhere around the bloggernacle, such as here and here, but I thought that for Wilderness Interface Zone and simplicity’s sake we’d just start over again at #1.

As always, if you, dear reader, have field notes or vivid memories of trips taken, you’re invited to make entries you’d like to share in the comments section. 

February 18, 2009, a.m.  Approaching the trailhead into Crossfire, I glance at the knoll northeast where reposes the horse skeleton.  My eye catches a flash of movement.  I stop.  Small deer maybe?  No. The tail end of some other kind of animal slips into a juniper’s scant cover.  Will the animal reveal itself? 

Wait for it. Continue reading Field notes #1