Saturday, October 25, 2008

Devil Dogs

Wild Plants and Wooly Bears

Last night, as so frequently happens, I was rudely awakened by demonic-sounding howls. Some were high-pitched, long and drawn out. Others guttural and abbreviated. These were eastern coyotes and by the sound, there were lots of them.

At first my sleep-muddled mind thought, “Where did all these dogs come from? Who has dogs?” Then I remembered that the few neighbors within hearing distance don’t have dogs. What really puzzled me was that the sounds came from varying compass points. It appeared that the initial bunch of these devil-dogs had initiated a kind of spontaneous “howl-in.”

Now fully awake and a little bit angry, I concentrated my attention upon the source and depth of the screams and howls. The closer ones were easy to pinpoint. Then, far away, others would answer. The whole woods rang with the most horrifying sounds.

Some people, particularly those who do not suffer the indignity of regularly being awakened by these wild mutts, might find some kind of twisted romance in all of this. The “call of the wild,” and that sort of thing. But when this happens two or three times a week, it quickly gets old.

I will say that I don’t like coyotes. Not because they have effectively extirpated all the varying hares in my part of Maine and not because they kill more than their fair share of deer. I dislike them because they intrude upon my sleep, leaving me fatigued and even a little shaky. Devil dogs, that’s what they are.

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