Sunday, February 5, 2012
Sort of Magical
I'd just walked the kids to the bus, patted my last shoulder, said my last goodbye, breathed a sigh of relief. It was our first sunny day in ages, a day where warmth managed to melt the despot's grip of winter just a little. The kids had been more energetic than usual and I was glad to release them to their lives. I had just turned to make my way back to my classroom when I heard Max holler my name.
Looking around, wondering what he'd forgotten and preparing myself to hustle him back to the room to get the item and still get back in time to catch the bus, I was completely surprised by his reason for turning back from the bus to get my attention.
"Mrs. Shucka," he said, pointing skyward, "look, it's the moon, out during the day." His face was serious, reverent, and his voice urgent. Was it possible that I was witness to the exact moment when this child became aware that the moon can be visible during the day?
"I see. Isn't it beautiful? Sort of magical, don't you think?"
He nodded, flashed a quick grin, satisfied with my response, and darted back to catch his bus.
That was the beginning. Both of a series of sunny almost-warm days, and of a series of sort of magical moments.
The next day, driving to work early enough that there wasn't even a hint of light in the east, I saw first an owl and a few minutes later a coyote. Each in its turn materialized in my headlights, then disappeared into the night so quickly they might have been wraiths. My heart quickened, both at the startle and at the gift of glimpsing creatures of the night.
Yesterday Walt and I visited the refuge for the the first time in nearly a year. Toward to the end of the route, I spotted a coyote in a nearby field. Then I spotted his partner. We watched them wander and hunt while we continued to move forward, finally stopping when we were as close as we could get. They seemed, not exactly unaware of us, but certainly unconcerned to the point of not even looking in our direction.
We sat completely engaged by their antics. They pounced like puppies, butts in the air, ears alive with interest at the possible meal underfoot. The smaller and lighter-colored of the two was also thick in the middle—pregnant with this year's litter most likely. Both were healthy, with lush coats and bright eyes. Their meandering led them to our stopped car. Still not looking at us, they crossed the road just feet from our front bumper. At least the female did. The male walked the road as though leading us for a bit before following his mate into the whispering brown grasses in search of more mice.
Coyotes are common here. Their wild night choruses often make us grateful to be safely indoors. I see sign everywhere when I walk Toby. Spotting one is no more unusual that spotting a deer. Yet being allowed to witness a pair hunting in broad daylight as we did yesterday felt like a rare and sort of magical event.
This morning I awoke to the mating hoots of our resident owls. That urgency came through closed windows and over the sound of the blown air heating the house. I lay in bed and listened, comforted and grateful, looking forward to a time not that far in the future when my morning wake-up song will be this year's owlet calling his aloneness into the dark.
I live a life where I not only get to say "resident owls," but I also get to know the differences in their calls. Where I can anticipate sightings with relative certainty. I live a life shared with coyotes, taught by them the lessons of survival, resilience and spirit. I live a life where children share their wonders with me. The wonders of unanswered questions. The wonders of newly discovered phenomena. The wonders of unfiltered feelings.
Sort of magical.
Photos by Walt Shucka