Growing up in the country gave us an opportunity to be exposed to various animals, birds (our crow) and insects. We always had cats around to be our mouse hunters, my brother had sheep that he cared for and sold at auction or we used them to feed our family and I had miniature goats to care for. The main animal that was a must though on our acreage was a dog. Our dogs made us aware if anyone was in the yard, they herded the sheep and goats, were our loving companions and most importantly were our protectors from the coyotes.
The coyotes were always around our acreage. In fact, they had dens just a ways away in the neighbours field. Our dogs would bark to the point of exhaustion at night trying to keep them away. It was so bad my dad would have to go out at night and shoot the gun off into the air to scare them off. Our poor dogs would fall at his feet with exhaustion and relief as the coyotes would get spooked and take off and all would be silent for the night. There would be times though when we would be without a dog and in those times the coyotes would come onto our porch and howl at night and attack and rip apart our sheep.
Now many people say a coyote is more afraid of you then you are of it. This is not true. If a coyote is alone or hungry enough in a pack, they will attack at any given opportunity. I know this from experience. An experience my brother and I never forgot.
Before I tell you about what terrifying experience we had, I will tell you about the night before. It had to be after midnight. Everyone was sleeping and I woke up thirsty. I was always scared to go to the washroom or get a drink by myself and would always wake up my mom or brother to take me (my dad worked on the rigs and was not home weeks at a time). This particular night I laid awake in my bed for what seemed like hours trying to work up the courage to go get that glass of water on my own. I finally did it. I tip toed into the kitchen trying not to wake anyone up, I climbed up on the counter, reached for my glass and scooted over to the sink. I did it! All on my own! I filled my glass up with water, set it on the counter beside me and jumped back down. I could see the low glow from the fire in the living room three stairs down from the kitchen. I thought “I’m up on my own, I will be even braver and sit on the tile around the fireplace and drink my water.”
I tip toed down the stairs heading towards the fire place with my glass of water in hand. I noticed the patio door. The blinds were not closed on it so I walked up to the big pane of glass, put my face on the cool glass and stared into the winter night. All of a sudden, I was filled with panic and fear. I dropped my glass of water on the wood floor and gasped too scared to scream. I was staring into the eyes of a coyote. He was snarling showing his teeth at me, its nose pressed up on the glass fogging it up. This coyote though did not look like the average gangly, greasy coyote I was used to seeing. This coyote was solid, tall and just huge. Its fur was fluffy white, clean and with the moon shining on it had a greyish ting around its beautiful mane. I never saw paws so huge on a coyote.
As I stared into the coyote’s eyes it was if it was staring into my soul. It could see everything. A sudden calmness came over me and I noticed a stinging pain in my right big toe. I looked down and saw I was standing in broken glass. I hadn’t even heard my glass of water break when it hit the wood flooring. I looked back up into the patio window and the coyote was gone. I pressed my face back onto the cool glass and looked into the winter night looking for signs of him but there was nothing. I quickly gathered up the pieces of broken glass. Went back up the stairs, put it in the garbage can., grabbed a tea towel, ran back down the stairs and cleaned up the water. I took one last look out the window and saw the coyote sitting at the end of our driveway as if guarding our property. I watched for a few minutes and he did not move. I was suddenly very tired. I went back up the stairs, put the tea towel on the stove handle, went into the washroom, grabbed the tweezers off the shelf and plucked the tiny piece of glass out of my big toe. I put it in the garbage can and tip toed as fast as I could down the hallway to my bed as quietly as I could and fell fast asleep.
As I got older, I saw pictures of wolves and I was taken back to that night and realized it was not a coyote in my patio window but a lone wolf. In my later years I was told the Wolf watches over me and protects me, it stands like fifteen feet tall behind me with a grey mane (This is a whole other story for another day while experiencing my first witch).
We spent most of our winter days driving my dad’s old Polaris (it was his dad’s, my grandpa). Even in -45 we would be priming the spark plugs and taking off for the day. As long as my dads Polaris started, we were gone. This particular day was a beautiful warm winter day. My brother and I got our winter gear on and decided to hook the aluminum toboggan onto the back of the Polaris and head out to the cut line and into the field. We had so much fun that day pinning the throttle open, turning as sharp as we could and trying to knock each other off of the toboggan. When this was achieved the next person would get a turn. After hours of this and running low on fuel we decided to head back to the house to change our wet gear and refuel up. It just happened to be my turn on the toboggan. We were going to see if I could hold on while riding in the cutline going over the tree stumps…. kids will be kids.
Before we headed back, we took a quick detour around the south side of the slough into some brush. The first thing I noticed was the fresh warm blood steaming on the snow beside me as I was holding onto the blue and white rope on the toboggan…. (To be continued)