Last night as the sky was just starting to pink, I was walking through my neighborhood when I noticed a man standing still ahead of me on the sidewalk. His back to me. As I got closer, I could see he was holding his phone up, framing a photo of an unremarkable agave plant. I stepped around him without breaking stride.
And then I saw the coyote. It wore a heavy collar
, and it glanced over its shoulder as it slinked across the street. So this was the subject of the man's photo. This little bit of info led me to develop a story about the man: I thought, he must be a recent transplant, probably from New York. It must be his first coyote. Or maybe his first daytime coyote. Or maybe just the first one he's seen in this no-filter-necessary golden light, in perfect juxtaposition to an agave.
Coyotes are never rare here, but in late summer they seem to be everywhere, crossing at stop signs in small packs and skulking alone through the hills. Even when you don't lay eyes on them, you know their presence by the proliferation of wrinkly posters on telephone poles with pleas about lost cats and chihuahuas. (I have come to think of these posters as sort of a retroactive menu.) Before a condo development went up on the hill across the street from my friend Sarah's house, packs of coyotes would gather there at night. The only way you could confirm their presence was by sweeping the hill with a powerful flashlight. The beam would reflect
At city council meetings and on the NextDoor app, coyotes are discussed as an invasive nuisance or threat, like a more dangerous pigeon or rat. But they pre-date condos and housecats and tracking collars. They pre-date guys in Supreme t-shirts wandering around with iPhones. They pre-date Joni Mitchell
. They pre-date stucco and palm trees. They pre-date the Ohlone and the Chinook, the Maidu, the Pawnee, the Tohono O'odham, the Ute and the Navajo. They pre-date the Aztecs.
We modern humans are the nuisance. We're the threat. Not to dramatically overthink a three-second non-interaction with a coyote, but I'm thinking about all this today as we go on strike across the world
to demand action on behalf of the things that were here before us.
Some odds and ends: On CYG, Amina interviews Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
about their reporting to expose Harvey Weinstein and the people who covered for him. You can listen to me on the Hey, Man podcast
, talking about new friends and old jealousies. And I'm thrilled to announce that Big Friendship
, which we are still revising, has a UK publisher