The Coyote Under the Apple Tree

October 1, 2008

As I passed by the kitchen window today a brownish object was where it shouldn’t be in the orchard below the house. I looked more closely and realized that a young coyote was lying on a patch of grass between two trees, chewing merrily on an apple.

Of course I stopped to watch. The critter’s enjoyment of the apples was obvious, as were its poor table manners. I guess a coyote pretty well has to chew with her mouth open, but she certainly shows a lot of teeth while eating fruit. The apple finished, she got up, moved over two trees, selected a wind-fall and returned to the same spot. This one is no beauty: she has a scraggly tail with a slight bend in it, matted fur, and the generally dissipated expression of someone who has seen the evil in the world — and approved of most of it.

Ever alert, she alternated sharp looks in all directions with great and messy enjoyment of her meal. Her head rolled back and forth in pleasure as she chewed. A coyote’s ears react to even the slightest sound, so I tried chatting to her through the insulated windows. Every word I said registered on her ears, which turned like radar domes to track the sounds, though I don’t think the rest of the coyote paid much attention to me.

The banquet continued, with many little forays to different trees for seconds, and then a return to her bed to eat. She doesn’t seem to like pears, but adores empires. She passed up a large, shiny winter apple in favour of those under the same tree I had whacked with the mower two days previously.

This went on for some time. Once again I found myself marveling at the appetite of the eastern coyote. I remember last summer watching a pair consume an astounding number of mice on a trip across a field. This one must have eaten all or parts of a dozen apples before she eventually ducked behind a hedge and disappeared.

We’re glad to have her around the house at this time of year because the mice will soon mount their annual invasion, and we can use all the help we can get.

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