Meaningless Encounters With Wildlife

Last week I arrived at the gym around 5:50 AM. I got out of the car, shuffled around to my backseat to find the water bottles I’m perenially losing back there, retrieved one, grabbed my gym bag, and went to start my walk across the parking lot when I saw something moving low to the ground a couple of cars in front of me. I stopped, still right outside my car, and saw what I thought was initially a fox dart between two vehicles. I waited as I imagined it trotting down the rows of cars, hoping to catch it as it emerged to cross the parking lot, and then I expected the street to the small patch of woods on the other side of the road. The “fox” emerged and began scuttling across the lot, but it was big for a fox, I thought, and then another “fox” followed it, and then a third, and that’s when I realized it was a pack of three coyotes.

Despite growing up hearing them howl behind my parents’ house, I’ve never seen coyotes in the wild. If I had to describe one, I’d go with “a bigger, mangier-looking fox,” meaning my initial instincts weren’t that off. About halfway between the group of cars and the end of the parking lot, the first coyote stopped, turned around, and looked right at me. I should’ve taken a picture, but honestly, while they weren’t that close, I don’t know how fast coyotes can run, but I know I have gone down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia’s Coyote attacks page, so I remained within reach of the car door handle. If I were a more profound, more spiritual person, or even the type of writer who’s able to mine metaphors and life lessons from the mundane, this is where there may have been some sort of interspecies psychic connection between man and beast, but nothing happened. The first coyote looked back at me, probably just to ensure I wasn’t a threat, sensed my apprehension, turned around, and padded away into the night. The other two bastards didn’t even bother to turn around. 

That Friday, like I’m hopefully planning on doing every Friday of the summer, I got to work by 6, so I could be done one/two and headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway for a Friday afternoon hike. I chose the Big Butt Trail because I didn’t feel like being in the car for that long. The hike was uneventful, and I was driving back down the parkway around 6 when I came to a line of cars stopped. I assumed it was bikers, but it was a bear. 

The two cars in front of me were stopped, taking pictures of the bear who’d posted up on the bank across the road. I don’t know if he was amused or just curious, but he just stood there, looking directly at the cars, who thankfully didn’t stop for a full minute to monopolize this bear from drivers behind them the way I was about to. When it was my turn to get close, I fully stopped my car, rolled down the window, and was able to get the following great shots of this bear, who, god bless him (her? them?), stared directly into the camera, and seemed to be enjoying this photoshoot. 

Do I have anything else to add except that I had too pretty cool wild-animal sightings in one week? Anything about humans encroaching on animals’ environments or how it’s just their world and we’re just living in it? Not really. I’m mainly bummed I didn’t get any photos of the coyotes

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