At about 2:00 this morning, I woke up with a start. It stopped being unusual to hear coyote packs howling in the night a few years ago—after all, on June 21st, it will be five years since I was the first of us to move into our little farm in Lowndesboro; we live with lots of coyotes all around us. But last night, there was a pack yipping so loud, sounding so nearby, that I panicked, convinced they were in our back yard, trying to get into Fort Yolk, where the old lady, La Monita, the last of our original chickens girls, and five new young ‘uns Sherod is raising, were all tucked in for the night. I’m not sure I’ve ever had that sense of being so much in the presence of raw danger. I woke up the spouseman who went out and looked as the night fell silent. It’s possible the coyotes were in one of our pastures or in the wooded area right beyond our fence-line, but there was no sign they had been anywhere near the chicken coop.
I have struggled to find the energy to get out and do the spring gardening that my roses and flower beds require. But what matters is today I was out with all my gardening stuff, weeding, dead-heading my roses, feeling the tug of the weight of a wheelbarrow full of limbs and weeds on my arms and shoulders as I hauled the effort of my work to the burn pile. After I dumped the contents of the wheelbarrow and stopped to open the gate of the pasture, I noticed a bright-red, not yet ripe, blackberry close by. I put down the wheelbarrow and began walking along the fence. I had stumbled into a small wild blackberry patch. When I had as many blackberries as I could hold in my hand, I put my harvest in the wheelbarrow, along with a rose I had picked and my gardening stuff and headed back in for the day.
You cannot be connected to the earth, to the wilderness that is easier to see when you live out in the country like I do, without having to acknowledge that there is a wildness to this life of ours we don’t get to choose. Last night as I lay in bed with my heart pounding, waiting to know if the coyotes had brought carnage to our homestead, that truth was brought home to me with ferocity. Within that wildness, so completely beyond our control no matter how much we like to think otherwise, there is also the utter generosity of Mother Earth. I’ve neglected my roses and yet they are laden with blooms. The blackberries were so juicy and sweet, still warm from the day’s sunshine, so delectable as they went down my throat, parched from an afternoon of good work.