It is 10pm. Beaumont and I are out for our late evening walk.
As we turn the corner from the cul de sac where we live to join the side street that runs up the hill to the escarpment above, a coyote goes racing by.
Beau strains at the leash.
The coyote doesn’t see us. He keeps running, up the hill, towards the path that meanders through the forest linging the hillside as it makes its way back down towards the river’s edge, leading westward out of the city.
He is there one minute, gone the next, so fast, I wonder if I really did see him. Beaumont’s antics tell me I did.
I turn around and come home. I don’t really want to have an encounter with a coyote late at night. Or anytime of the day for that matter.
We live along the river’s edge in a community that was once the western limit of the city but has long been consumed by urban sprawl and annexation of a town on the other side of the river that once lay beyond the city limits.
The river is nature’s highway. A broad sweeping ribbon of water that flows down out of the mountains, through the city, inexorably drawn by nature’s pull towards Hudson’s Bay far to the east.
Every evening, as we sit on our deck, we watch rafters drifting by and a few brave souls navigating paddle boards.
Like the coyote who raced by chasing some unseen prey, or perhaps heeding a primitive call to head to the hills, take cover in the forests that edge the water’s northern rim.
There are no houses on the northern edge of the river where the Bow turns a broad sweeping curve as it flows in from the West. High above, along the ridge of the escarpment, houses stand, their windows gleaming in the evening sun. They keep watch over the parkland area that runs along the river’s edge. Trees. Vegetation and a long extinct gravel pit that has been turned back to the land to become a flood water diversion project.
It is beautiful along the river’s edge.
And a refuge to the wild things that used to roam freely.
It’s easy to forget about the wild things when surrounded by urban sprawl and concrete.
It’s easy to forget we are not alone on this land.
A coyote ran by last night.
Fast and fleet of foot, he swept in from the south, headed north and then disappeared from view.
And still, his footprints run through my memory, reminding me, we do not own this land we claim as ours. There were others here before us. Others who once ran free. Who did not need concrete roads and traffic signs to tell them how to get from one place to the next.
Long ago, they followed the rivers and the streams. The seasons and the wild things.
In their footsteps we must tread lightly upon this land upon which we walk.
In their footsteps we must honour the land that gives us our home.