Emily in hot water
September 9, 2012
The afternoon buzzed its way along. Martin was in the wood shop with a trailer-load of pine to machine into baseboards for his house renovation. I think he had the shaper running at the time of the event.
Charlie was next door in his garage, the red Porsche half-up on the hoist, seats disassembled and scattered around the floor while he installed a roll bar.
Every light in both buildings was on and all doors were open. Of course.
That was when Emily the wolf finished her afternoon meal of ripe pears and trotted up across the yard, only to encounter her beloved Ranger, the bearer of dead squirrels and fish heads, and a strange human making loud noises in the building. She looked in, then continued on to the next building she hadn’t seen open before. So she stuck her head in for a look, satisfied herself that there was nothing of value to her there, and continued on out to a secure spot in the middle of the adjoining field.
Just then I happened to walk up the driveway to see Emily stage her trot-by of the artisans’ alley. I didn’t know it was she. The hairs on a wolf’s muzzle are a lot like a Monet painting: they show different colours at different distances and angles. Up close Emily didn’t seem to have any white on her muzzle at all. I assumed this was a new wolf, and a bit of a threat.
Prodded by my wife (“She’s not a pet. She’s a wild animal.”) and Martin (“There’ve been a whole raft of people killed by them down east!”) I reluctantly got the rifle and headed out into the field to deal with the rogue.
The wolf had lain down in the middle of the field behind the garage to sleep off the effects of all of those sugary pears. She looked up as I approached in the Ranger. From the accustomed line of sight I realized immediately that this was Emily, not a stranger. Still, she had crossed the line in alarming family and friend, so I had to take action.
From a hundred yards, offhand, I took careful aim with the rifle and shot … the dirt three feet to the right of Emily’s left paw. She bolted up, ran twenty yards, turned and looked at me: “What are you doing? Are you sure you want to do this?” I sent another 180 grain 30 calibre Emily’s way. Another direct hit on the spot three feet to the right of her left paw. This time she took the hint and galloped away, mouthing a vile imprecation back over her shoulder. Nothing can curse like an angry coyote.
But where was she to go? This was her field, her home. She has defended it against all comers for three years now.
The rifle again locked up and order restored, Martin took the Ranger with two oil drums of sawdust back to the pile, only to drive back with the barrels unemptied. Seems Emily had stood her ground against this interloper, sitting by the path and defying him to come any closer. Martin turned tail. He unlocked his fancy automatic shotgun, loaded up, and asked me to ride shotgun if I expected him to get rid of the sawdust he had generated over the afternoon.
Emily met us back around the sawdust pile, but acted less resentful when I spoke to her, even though I scolded her for her walk through the yard on a busy afternoon. Reassured that I was there, she retreated to the fence row where she peeked out at us from concealment. Martin dumped his sawdust without bloodshed.
Charlie’s reaction to Emily’s visit was visibly less aghast than Martin’s, but then Charlie grew up with dogs. He knows how they think. Martin seemed a little spooked by the large and overly familiar canine examining his woodworking project.
I hope Emily thinks it over and decides to leave off the lawn visits for a while. Otherwise I may have to improve my aim with the rifle.
Now I know what writers mean when they say that if you feed a wolf, it’s a death sentence for the wolf.
It’s been two weeks since I educated Emily with the .300 Savage. She’s become a good deal more discreet in her movements since. A couple of days later she came upon us in the field but took herself to the other side and cover as soon as Cagney barked at her. Emily’s still around, and still makes her visits to the orchard. She’s just more careful with the scheduling now. An old wolf can unlearn a dangerous habit, it seems.
FOOTNOTE: October 27, 2013
Emily’s been gone since early spring. We kept hoping she’d come back for the pears in the fall, but we haven’t seen her or any wolves, for that matter. I miss her. She was a good neighbour.