My favorite part is the wolves: part II

There by the water. Near the rocks, drinking. Shhh, be still, she sees you moving, she’s lifted her head. Her yellow eyes catch yours for a moment and then she’s…gone.

At first glance, a wolf. Or… maybe a coyote?

But yet not. She’s a bit smaller than a wolf, a bit larger than a coyote. Markings of a wolf yet more tawny in color, like the grasses still whispering in her wake. And her ears are rounded at the edges. Softer.

Wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs all dance inside her DNA.

She numbers in the millions. Her range stretches from Southern Canada through the Eastern U.S. As far south as PA and Washington D.C.

She’s a coywolf, a secretive and cunning hybrid with a powerful mix of ancestors in her genes.

Comfortable hunting in forested, open and urban areas, the coywolf is capable of thriving where her wolf, coyote, and dog sisters cannot.

And her language? As blended as her genes. Her call begins as a deep howl like the wolf and ends in a playful yipping like the coyote.

She is a product of her environment. She can tolerate the noise of crowded cities, and can live off the refuse of human encampment. Yet she is also a fierce hunter who can take down a moose.

She is a shape shifter. A creature of the night so secretive that she is almost invisible. She is clever. She is adaptable. She is resilient. She is a perfect being for living in this changing world.

She is wild.

She is wolf. But she is more.

This is the world we live in. As much as I wish and work for change, I also must accept that this is the world I live in. It is dirty. It is paved. It is poisoned. It is pillaged. But it is also breathtakingly beautiful. It is wet. It is green. It is regenerative. It has a blue sky. It is alive.

It is both tame and savage. It is both broken and whole. It is all encompassing. To ignore the truth, to reject the present, to live in some ideal in our minds is a misstep.

How easily life can become just a story we tell ourselves.

We want the wild to be the way it was. We want the forests and the animals and the waters and the land to be restored to the way it all once was. Perfect and pure.

But that world is gone. The creatures that roamed that world are long dead. Their bones press up through the damp earth from time to time. Their bodies decorate our museums.

We’ve changed this planet. We’ve shifted the balance and now we must watch as the temperatures rise and the waters boil.

We’ve done this.

And now we can’t wish it away. We can’t positively think our way out of this. We can’t pray our way out. No one is going to save us.

But ourselves.

We must do the work.

We must reconnect to the natural world. We must plant trees. We must stop shopping. We must be kind. We must cooperate. We must change. We must listen. We must grow.

We must learn how to care for the land in a way that does not only benefit ourselves. We must raise the carrying capacity of the land base. We must hunt. We must gather. We must reuse. We must make. We must create. We must love.

We must adapt.

Just like the coywolf. We must figure out how to live between the worlds and how to blend them. She is wolf, and she is dog. She is coyote. And she is something else entirely.

This moment has never existed before and it never will again. We are people on the cusp, A foot on the brink, white knuckles desperately holding onto slowly eroding land.

Wolf and I are the same. We carry our babies the same way, beneath a cage of bone, in heavy and swollen bellies. We feed our children from our breasts. We hunt, we eat, we play, we live, we make love.

I understand wolf’s language.

But language is a transient thing. A creature that shifts in the night. Wolf’s language is changing. And so is mine.

Can you hear it?






Thank you for listening,

photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen


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