I wrote this story back in June and completely forgot about it. Today I was supposed to be writing about my life’s trip, it’s not going to happen. Two weeks ago I did an outline for a story about my second year in Toronto then drifted off to my youth in St Kitts and wrote about that instead. Finishing the initial story is proving to be quite a challenge. I don’t like structure in my life outside of work so it’s not new for me to procrastinate. I think I am going to have to forget about the outline and start over.
Last Thursday I went by the neighbourhood ravine, Calgary 12-mile Coulee and saw a Coyote, which reminded me of this story.
The Coulee is home to lots of animals. Last summer there were black bear sightings, a lot of rabbits and prairie dogs. My son and I took a walk on this path that runs parallel to the ravine and saw a garden snake. So here goes.
One Saturday in June 2010.
Sometimes in the morning if you are awake just before the sun comes up you may get a little lucky and see coyotes heading back to the Coulee after a night of hunting.
It is hard for the Coyotes to get home quietly. We have crows and magpies nesting in the area and they don’t like the coyotes and they don’t care how the humans feel about their squawking at the Coyotes as they go by. They can get noisy, but they act as an alarm system.
This morning Jo, my daughter and my grand kids went off to a fun park for the day so I decided to get off ‘da couch’ and go hiking along the river bank (stream really) at the Coulee. I decided to take Jo’s 15 pounds of beef (a Schnauzer named Panda) with me just in case I needed to make an offering to a hungry coyote as I make my way through the area.
You men must agree that it’s a man thing to go off in the bush alone; women are faint at heart and would only hold you back. A man and his wife’s dog… off we go.
On my way down to the river (stream) I went by a man and his two small sons having a picnic on a bench. I am thinking: “Smart man, don’t expose your kids to the wild animals; stay close to ‘civilization’, it’s safer.”
When I got to the water I had to make a decision as to how to cross the river (stream). Should I lift the dog or should I let her swim cross by herself. Just this week I had heard on the radio that there was Lime disease spreading through dogs. I wondered how the dogs caught it.
I had never seen Panda swim either.
This Panda is a pampered dog. She has a winter coat and boots and refuses to leave the house in the winter if she is not dressed properly. I had a good story if she got eaten by a Coyote: “she defended me like a trooper”, but drowning? How do I explain that to Jo? So I decided to lift her and hop across the raging river (stream) with her in my arms.
As luck would have it I spotted a nice flat rock in the middle of the river (stream) so I decided to step on it. You know a boost, a quick hop and a skip. Bad idea, the rock moved when I stepped on it and I had a big spill.
Crap, too bad I don’t have a picture of that.
No one was around, so it was all good except a little tear on my pants. I hated those pants anyway, so I’d throw them out when I got home. Oh and I was completely soaked, looks like I peed myself. Phew, no harm done. The dog survived also, I must have let her go as I fell since she was sitting on the other side drying off.
I could swear as she looked at me she was thinking, “What an idiot, I can swim buddy.” And I am thinking, “It’s just a stream buddy you probably walked.”
I was about to walk away when I heard this voice: “Are you OK?” Damn, someone saw that. This old couple comes around the corner with a dog half the size of Panda, which proceeded to jump in the River (stream) and “WALK” across. How humiliating! Just in case they knew Jo, I texted her and told her I tripped over this fallen tree. You know the first story is always the right one.
Ok, now I am upright and ready from my real adventure. What do you do when you are going off in the woods? You get a stick for defensive purposes. So I found a nice fat stick banged it against the ground to test its strength. It broke, found another, decided not to test it and set out on my trip, man and his wife’s dog.
As I walked along I could swear there were eyes looking at us, coyote’s eyes I am sure. I picked up the pace. The river (stream) is winding, I am not sure what to expect around each bend. Just as I am ready to start running a family of 3, a mom and two young kids not more than 6 years old, comes along jogging with a little puppy.
What an irresponsible woman I am thinking, she obviously does not know how dangerous this area is.
I stopped to get my bearings, I looked around for landmarks. I saw that on TV. I could see some power lines overhead. Ok how dangerous can it be? We are close to civilization. I thought about the people that just went by, they did not look too concerned. Then I thought about this lady who got mauled by a bear last week in BC. I saw that on TV. I bet she was not concerned either.
It was too late to turn back so I slowed down and decided to enjoy the scenery, although I am still sure there are eyes looking at me. What if it was a Sasquatch? I came to this cleared out area and stumbled into a boy on a bicycle, probably around 12. I asked him how far it is to the nearest ‘exit’. He said he was not sure, but I will have to cross the river (stream) about 10 more times. He was taking a leak; I was tempted to tell him the fine is $300. I realized there was no one around to give him a ticket, decided to mind my business.
Another few meters and I came across a clump of rabbit hair. Damn was this rabbit eaten by a coyote or just shedding its winter coat? My anxiety was heightened again.
Along the path, whenever I had to cross the river (stream), I always had two choices; veer to the left or to the right. I always took the right, well; I took the left once, what if I made the wrong choice?
So far so good. At one point, Panda chose to walk behind me; maybe she was using me as human sacrifice. Animals do have great instincts. Maybe she saw the Sasquatch.
Eventually I got to the first ‘exit’ and decided to take it. The exit was a hill that was quite steep and this old man was jogging down it. As he got close to me, I recognized him as the man who had witnessed my fall. He jogged to the bottom, then to the top and for the third time was crossing me again on his way down.
I was thinking about ‘da couch’ and how out of shape I was. Panda was also pooped.
The walk back home is about a kilometre and a half away. As we got within 50 meters of the house Panda sat down and refused to move. I had to carry her in my arms; we must have been a silly sight.
When I got back to ‘da couch’ I decided I will write down my experience and tell it to my grandkids so I embellished it a bit. The truth, I did fall, was totally embarrassed, texted Jo, got cramped toes from the wet shoes, I was a little concerned about the coyotes, but they are nocturnal and they don’t like humans.
I decided to wait until the kids are older to read it to them; maybe that’s why I forgot about it. If you look really closely at the pictures, you may get a glimpse of the Sasquatch. It was a great hike; I’ll have to do it again soon.
My two year old grandson refers to the stream as the BIG RIVER, we go there to race popsicle sticks.