A friend of mine over in New Hampshire posted a comment on Facebook about seeing a coyote in his yard. He said a few things about startling the animal by calling his wife to see and then wondered, “What is it about seeing wild animals that’s so thrilling”.

His comment started me to thinking about the wild world all around us. I immediately wondered about it and began putting words together about it. Then it occurred to that when someone expresses being thrilled by the sight of a coyote in their yard the only sensible thing to say would be something like, “Wow!”. Or maybe something more detailed and scholarly like, “That’s fantastic”, or “Way cool”.

It wasn’t that long ago that I had a fox in my yard beneath a bird feeder on two consecutive days! My partner in life CA talks of hearing coyotes yipping in the night. I can no longer hear that well. I’d love to be able to hear that.

Once I had three adolescents with me in the San Juan Mountains in the late summer on a two night hike in some of the most beautiful high country there is. Late in the second day we were scrambling down a hill trying to stay close to the creek we were following that would lead us to the shelter we sought when we saw, standing tall in the glade into which we were skidding, this huge black bear. We’re talking 150 feet, which isn’t much to a bear, and even less to us we felt at the time. We were loaded with heavy packs which were doing little to help slow our descent. At that point, the bear turned toward us and then scurried off into the tangle of forest beyond not to be seen again. We probably represented more of a threat to it than it represented to us. We did a lot of “Wowing” and “That’s fantastic”, that night around the fire.

Living on the edge of the woods here we see a lot of deer, turkeys, raccoons, ground hogs and squirrels. It’s their home after all. I sometimes loose sight of how fortunate we are to live where these creatures can be seen. We share this space. It would be sad if there were no critters in the woods. The meaning of living here would be severely altered.

Then there is that sense that the animal kingdom have an awareness, beyond that which we have, of the environment. These creatures remind us of the existence of another world – a parallel universe – a nature bound economy that goes on around us from the molecular level up through the deer that keep our euonymus pruned.

I’m not sure just what it is that thrills us at the sight of wild things. Some say they represent a challenge to our “dominion” directive. Some say it is a spiritual thing. Some say it’s because we are ourselves descendants of wild things. Could that be it? Is it the thrill of meeting a long lost cousin?

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