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”