Posts Tagged ‘Coyote’

As Omens Go, the Eagle Soars

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

bald eagleBy Bob Gaydos

Do you believe in omens?

I believe in omens.

Not the dire, gloom-and-doom omens of Greek tragedy. It’s not that I dismiss the existence of negative omens out of hand, or that I think bad things don’t happen, but rather that I choose to focus my energies on what I perceive to be good omens.

For example, while lying in the grass a few days ago, staring skyward and having a relaxed conversation with a friend on a beautiful, warm, spring afternoon, I found my attention slowly shift to a winged object flying low in the sky right towards us. As it got closer I could make out the distinctive white head. “That’s an eagle!” I exclaimed.

Indeed it was. And it kept flying with a slow, deliberate stretching of its wings right over us and on past the tree line where it was no longer visible. A youngish bald eagle, and an eagle with a purpose.

A positive omen for sure. After all, it was an eagle, not a turkey vulture.

The trick with omens, of course, is making the connection between them and real life. What did this omen mean to me beyond the fact that I would definitely buy a ticket for the New York Lottery’s Megamillions drawing?

For one thing, it got me thinking about a similar encounter I had had a couple of years ago when a coyote casually trotted in front of my car as I was sitting reading on a quiet country road. No fanfare, no fuss. Right by me and off into a cornfield, out of sight, but not out of mind. I wrote about the coyote and the fact that it got me to thinking about some positive events that had recently occurred in my life that would normally escape notice. It change my outlook, my focus, my day.

So, too, with the eagle and I think the connection is, literally, the connection, between eagle and man, coyote and man, nature and man. We humans have a way of acting as if the planet is our personal plaything, to lord over and do as we will with all other living creatures. So we revere eagles and protect them because someone decided they were noble looking and worthy of being our national symbol, whereas coyotes are … not.

As a result of this human arrogance, we have polluted the atmosphere of the planet, added all manner of chemicals to our natural food supply, and destroyed the natural habitat of countless species of animals (and eliminated many species as a result), all in the name of progress. This arrogance has spread, perhaps unavoidably, into our relationships with each other. How far is it, after all, from treating animals with casual indifference or callous disregard to treating human beings the same way. We call it politics and it is the shame of our nation today.

The eagle tells me this is wrong. Majestic in its slow, deliberate flight, it says to me, “You may think you’re in charge, but don’t get too comfortable. We share this tiny planet and you almost drove me out of existence for no good reason.”

And we continue to do so, willy nilly melting the polar icecaps, committing genocide on species of animals, loading up our food supply with chemicals and altering the very genetic makeup of the food so that more can be grown faster in less space and less cost, to the considerable profit of chemical companies that now call themselves food companies. All of this is connected, the eagle reminds me, but most of us are too busy arguing over things that have nothing to do with the future welfare of the planet and its inhabitants.

For me, that means my recent writing about the revived interest in slaughtering horses, the mass murder of honey bees, the resistance to labeling food that has been genetically modified has not been a trivial pursuit. It means that expressing concern over the infusion of chemicals in our food, the resistance of those in power to honestly discussing these topics and their loyalty to powerful corporations that seek to control the planet by modifying it in any way possible to suit their own needs, is not a departure from writing about the “important” stuff, i.e. politics. Instead, the eagle tells me, it means I am finally writing about the stuff that really matters.

In case you’re wondering, here’s a small sampling: the elimination of all orangutans (our closest cousins) on the planet; the poaching of elephants for their tusks; the same threat to rhinos; the labeling of horsemeat and other animal byproducts as beef; and “no-kill” animal shelters that kill. There’s more: the belief by the Nestle CEO that humans have no intrinsic “right” to water; the power of such companies as Monsanto, Nestle, Bayer and others to buy politicians to write laws that protect the companies from having to reveal what they are doing to the food they sell. And let‘s not forget efforts by those in power to silence the voices that raise alarms on these issues.

It is all connected. We are all connected. What happens in Sumatra or the Amazon matters in Manhattan and Paris. We humans should be working together to preserve and protect our home instead of bickering over personal ideologies, which won’t matter much when the ice caps melt, the other species are gone and we have no one to look at but ourselves.

That’s what the eagle, flying low and with a purpose, tells me. Focus on the important stuff. Be positive in approaching life. It’s a beautiful world; enjoy it. And keep buying lottery tickets. (I had a Megamillions number worth $2. It’s a start.)


Close Encounters, the Remarkable Kind

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The coyote came out of nowhere and disappeared into a corn field.

By Bob Gaydos

I saw a coyote the other day. Not on television, but about 150 feet in front of me. I was sitting in my car, having my morning coffee-and-newspaper fix (old habits) when I caught a glimpse of something moving on the road in front of me. The road is a quiet one that parallels a state highway on one side and a corn field on the other. No houses, businesses or other distractions. A rare hideaway in a suburbanized world.

That’s probably why the coyote sighting surprised me. The animal came out of nowhere — actually, it would have to have been from across the busy highway to my left — and moved purposefully across the road and into the corn field on my right. It took maybe 10 seconds, not long enough for me to realize what I was seeing and grab my camera from the backseat. So you’ll have to take my word for it.

The scraggly looking critter — and they are particularly ugly animals — disappeared into the corn and out of my life. I have since returned to the road for coffee and contemplation. But thus far no coyote. Not that I really expect a revisit. Then again, I never expected the first one.

At the same time, I have been thinking how remarkably unremarkable the brief event was — Hey, everybody’s seen a coyote around here — and yet how unremarkably remarkable it was — Really? Everybody’s seen a coyote around here?

I think it was just plain remarkable, though I haven’t figured out precisely why.

For starters, I guess, it gives me something a little offbeat to throw into conversations when I don’t feel like talking politics.

“Hey, Bob, what did you think of that Republican debate the other night?”

“Yeah, you know what? I saw a coyote the other day — middle of the morning, big as life, right in front of me, ugly as could be. Ran from the highway into the cornfield. Where the heck did he come from? How dangerous do you think he might be? How far do they travel? What are they doing down here anyway? Are they instinctual survivors? Do they eat cows? Can people shoot them legally?”

Good political questions all, turned masterfully into environmental musings.

The coyote sighting, plus my firsthand experience with the earthquake — sitting in my car again, in front of my home, listening to two idiots on a talk radio sports show discuss the Mets for some reason, when the car starts shaking back and forth like it’s in a Category 3 hurricane, then repeating the scenario a few seconds later — are godsends for future social chitchat. No harm, no foul, plenty of aww shucks.

But is that remarkable? Or just luck?

In any event, it got me thinking about the unpredictable encounters we have in our lives every day and how they affect us, or not. For example, I stopped in at QuickChek for my morning coffee recently and was struck by the sound of a loud, female voice engaged in earnest (although clearly not a business) conversation. This was over the sound of the piped in music and usual hum of store business. Scanning quickly, I spotted the culprit, in a far corner, cell phone to ear, oblivious to her decibel level and intrusion into other people’s lives. I later spotted her on line, still talking into her cell phone and cradling two half-gallon-size fountain drinks in her arms. I may have said a prayer of gratitude that I didn’t know her.

On the other hand, a few days before Madame Megaphone and the coyote, I was starting my coffee routine at QuickChek when I noticed a gentleman of a certain age — you know, mature — swaying and bobbing in perfect step to the piped-in music as he added sugar to his coffee. He was smiling too, broadly, and I swear he was humming.

“You’re having a better morning than I am,” I volunteered.

“He woke me up this morning,” came the happy reply.

Say what you want about the value of living life with a positive attitude, people do not often invoke Him in public — certainly not in a convenience store to strangers — in order to explain their joyous attitude. And this gentleman was indeed joyous. I’d said I felt cranky. My bones. He said I could talk to my bones and change that.


He even let me go before him in line.

Total honesty: I had a much better day after that encounter and, like the coyote, I’ll probably never forget the joyous gentleman, although I do look for him in QuickChek every time I give them some of my money.

And if Madame Megaphone returns, as I fear she will, I will do my best to tune her out and tune in to the piped-in music. Let’s hope it’s upbeat. If you happen to see me there with a cup of coffee, humming with a dumb ass grin on my face, I’m probably having a good, if not joyous, day. I’ll be heading out to my road to catch up on the news and wait for the next coyote.