On June 12, at 5:55 AM, on my daily predawn walk up to Twin Peaks, where I meander the dirt trails with my loyal 12-year-old-90-pound lab-mix, I had a grand surprise! As I rounded the last rise on the third peak — Twin Peaks actually has three peaks — who should be looking right at me but a young beautiful coyote pup with the biggest ears! The ears were what stood out. I immediately leashed Park and stood back so as not to frighten her away. She came within about 50 feet of us and started bouncing like a ball: boing, boing, boing, over and over and over again, her rear legs sending her straight up and then absorbing her fall, like a kangaroo — the motion reminded me exactly of a high bouncing super-ball. Was she happy and exuberant! She was obviously very excited to see us: keeping a cautious distance, but not fearful. Then she trotted down the path and waited ahead in a crouched-ready-to-pounce playful position. It seemed like an invitation to play. We just watched, totally overtaken and speechless. Several times she stood up to approach a little, and then returned to her original crouched position. I began talking to her gently: “Wow, do you know how special you are? You are SO special. You are my MOST special encounter in 25 years of walking up here,” and so on . . .
After a while I wondered what she would do if we moved a little or continued our walk on the trail. As we approached she moved off to the side of the path, giving us plenty of room — always keeping her critically-safe distance from us. Then, as we continued, SHE FOLLOWED US! We went all the way to the end of the path, where it hits the road, and then, afraid of losing the magic of the moment, decided to turn back. She again moved off the path to let us by and then followed us back to the rise, where this time we sat down to watch her, with me always talking gently to her. She crouched down and watched us. We remained like this for some time, “visiting,” just quietly and curiously observing each other and reflecting on what a glorious show this was. At 6:15, after a full 20 minutes, we decided it was time to leave — Park was getting impatient, not finding this at all interesting. He nudged me with his nose, meaning “Can’t we go now?” So we started back. And the young coyote followed AGAIN and finally stayed back when we reached the road. In these 20 minutes this bouncing coyote had bounced straight into my heart, where she will forever remain. I’ve grown to love her, with her endearing personality and trusting nature. I didn’t have my camera that day, but I vowed never to leave it behind again. I have since seen Myca a number of times and taken some photos which I wanted to share. “Myca” is the nickname I gave her — for “My Coyote” and also for her ‘mica’ coloring and the transparency of her mild, trusting nature — it suits her. That she is a “she” is not for certain, but her characteristics somehow suggest this to me, which is why I will refer to her as “her” (even though I began by calling “him” Myc earlier on). In reality, she is “our” coyote — she belongs to all of us who care about her.
[This excerpt was first published in the fall of 2007 as the first chapter of “Myca of Twin Peaks”, a self-published booklet which can still be found in small independent bookstores in San Francisco]
Addendum: Since that encounter, the better part of a decade ago, I have come to know many, many urban coyotes in San Francisco, and with each one, I feel the same thing: love and respect and awestruck each time I meet someone new. I spend time getting to know their behaviors and WHO they are, and how they interact with people and pets, and I then pass on useful or interesting information to the public in my blog, Coyoteyipps.com.
I was invited to put on an exhibit based on the book at the Seed Gallery for Photography at the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in the Presidio. The presidio is the largest urban national park in the country, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. The Exhibit was scheduled to be on display from March 20 through May 16, 2008, but then was extended through May 30th and then through June 10: http://www.urbanwildness.com/urbanwildness.com/Index/Pages/Myca_of_Twin_Peaks__An_Exhibit_and_A_Book.html. The photos then moved to the Josephine Randall Junior Museum where they were displayed from September 2008 until the end of 2015.