Thursday, January 24, 2008

Coyote for a present

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Yesterday evening our Bishops Mills neighbour Lou Jerolli stopped his truck out front. Marigold, who was down in the lab, barked so insistently that I got up from supper and rushed down to see what was the matter. There was Lou, outside the front door. When I unlocked and opened, he invited me out to see the "present" he'd brought. There was a fresh road-killed Coyote in the back of his truck, and I thought, "Oh, no - I have no time to do anything with it!" Lou was sure I'd do a nice painting of it, as he was the proud owner of a print of my watercolour Fisher portrait. I explained that we were rushing to prepare for a meeting in Roebuck about Limerick Forest Advisory Committee, so he asked where he could leave it. I gave in, and said the back porch. I went back up to finish eating supper while Fred was down attending to the printing-out of documents to take. I didn't think about the Coyote again until we left for the meeting. There was the Coyote, stretched out on the full length of the old washtub stand on the back porch, its eye still gleaming, and its ears and legs still supple - the body still warm. I ran back up for my camera - couldn't find it. Came back down. It was in the car. I turned it on, surprised that it still worked fine entirely below freezing!

Took a few photos of the head, with details of the eye, in the porch light, and by flash, and then we left for the meeting, the Coyote still on the porch. This morning when Matt came to work, he asked where the "Coyote-sicle" came from... We were careful all day to keep Marigold from making contact with it, and in the late afternoon I went down to sketch it in pencil on a journal page, standing hunched over to look down upon its head. The ear was stiff, and the eye a tiny bit sunken, and in the pupil that had been clear and black last night, a hazy blue moon. But I sketched the eye as I'd remembered it.


Eastern Ontario Coyotes are large, possibly crossed with Canis lycaon, the "old North American" Algonquin Park Wolf, which is much closer to Coyotes than the Eurasian Timber Wolf Canis lupus of the north and west. This one measures 129 cm. from nose to tail tip, and weighs 17.7 kg. Fred and I both noticed how the nose turns up. We will put it in a freezer now - I may yet paint that portrait. In any case, we will eventually have the skeleton. Lou said it was killed in Ottawa, on Albion Road, 1 km south of the racetrack. There has recently been a furor about urban Coyotes in Greely, not far from where this one was killed. Ours looks in far better shape than the one in the article's photo - no wonder it was eating people's pets!

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2 comments:

  1. At first I had hopes that the coyote story was going to be a "Sleeping Beauty" classic and that the poor animal had been merely stunned but at least there is some consolation in the fact that you have been able to commemorate the vitality before the final ebb.

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  2. As my father watched my progress on a watercolour of a Red Squirrel which we'd picked up fresh on the road, he commented that it appeared as if the vitality was being transferred from the animal to its portrait - as the portrait became more alive-looking, the specimen appeared less so - at about the same rate. He said it was rather spooky!

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