I’m still not sure which woke me first–Kurt whispering intensely, “Molly, do you hear them?” or the sounds themselves. Stumbling up through layers of sleep, I half sat to listen. Kurt leaned closer to the window. The air around us seemed to vibrate with yips and howls. I recognized the sound immediately: Coyotes. But, I’d rarely heard them so loud before. They must have been close. Really close.
I still remember the first time we heard coyotes after moving to Maine. How we wondered at first what they were. How they sounded to us then– like a pack of drunks spilling out into the streets after last call at the bars. Howling and yipping. Wild with revelry. I smile now thinking how our city life translated into country.
We’ve heard them many times since, and last night, decades later, we listened to them again.
“Just listen to them!”
“They’re so loud. Are they down in the field?”
We whispered back and forth, as outdoors, the volume rose and then stayed steady, never receding. I’m not sure why we whispered. Was it instinctive? A need to stay unnoticed by this roving pack of predators? Or perhaps we whispered in deference to the wild magic of that midnight moment.
Still listening, I imagined the coyotes moving through the snow. Slipping through shadows. Their breath frosting in the frigid air. Their strong, lean bodies dark silhouettes. Loud, fierce and free.
And then, just like that, their calls stopped. As if a switch had turned. The sudden silence felt like an echo.
After a moment, I lay back down, pulling the blankets up around my shoulders. I wondered if coyote prints outlined a path across the field, or perhaps even a circle in the side yard beneath our window.
So close. So loud. So fierce and free.
I tumbled back into sleep, thinking of coyotes.