Stephen DeStefano's Coyote at the Kitchen Door is a good,
quick read. (Must admit that I skimmed much of the environmental theory,
since it was stuff I already agreed with.) A few more of his stories of
encounters with animals as a wildlife biologist would have been
enjoyable. He gets up to some good writing here, about my sweet Coyote:
"She has been called "ky-ote" and "ky-o-tee"--coyotl, cayeutes,
cojote, and Canis latrans. Some have referred to her as song dog or
prairie tenor, burrowing dog, brush wolf, prairie wolf, cased wolf, or
barking wolf. A ghost of the plains of a century past, a ghost of our
cities in more modern times.
She has been accused of
being a varmint, a scourge, a pest, and a weed, and she has been praised
as an icon of the American West, elevated to a key role as a top
carnivore in the balance of nature, and deified as God's dog.
is a dedicated mother and an excellent hunter, a long-distance traveler
and a tireless scavenger. She is a carnivore and an omnivore and a
vegetarian, depending on circumstances and opportunities. She is
recognized by her track and scat, her voice and her scent. She is know
for her cunning, her slyness, and her ability to survive and persist and
move and spread. She has taken up residence in virtually every
ecological community and human environment on the continent and has
eaten everything humankind and nature have to offer. She is among the
most adaptable of species.
She has befriended badgers
and mated with dogs and wolves. She is strangely familiar and altogether
foreign. She has survived decades of cyanide, strychnine, and 1080;
.222s and .308s and 30-aught-6s; steel-jawed traps and wire snare;
barbed-wire fences and speeding vehicles; bad press, half-truths, and
She has found her way into the stories
and songs and poetry and legends of all who have ever shared this land
with her. We have used her name and image for our business and sports
team logos while we have hung her carcass on our fences and tacked her
hide to our sheds. We have worn her fur and put a bounty on her body and
shared some of our most memorable evenings with her serenades and
songs. We praise her, idolize her, and fear her and hate her, sometimes
all in the same breath, and as such she has become an analogy for our
relationship with all of nature. We have lived with her for our entire
existence in North America, and if we were to lose her altogether, we
would forever be missing a piece of what it is to be American.
But there is little chance of that, because she is a coyote and she knows how to get by."
Oh yeah, that gets at it. The coyote sighted in an Erie, PA cemetery got her own Facebook page. We love seeing Wile E. outsmarted by Road Runner.
Our feelings for Madame Coyote are complex, and so they lead to great
stories. Come on in to the East Coast, Coyote! Just don't eat my
Rima, a wonderful artist in Dartmoor, England, has given the world this image:
She has the Occupy movements in mind, but I think it means even more than that! What do we tellers do, other than struggle against a price tag on our days? If you love what you do, you are always working, and yet never working. So let your old heart show. Steal this image. Stick it up somewhere unexpected. Who knows what it will start?
I have a thing for Badgers. And they like me, too. Here is my adaptation of the Badger Rules of Thumb from The Cottage Tales series by Susan Wittig Albert. This mystery series is based on the life of Beatrix Potter. They are fun & fluffy; the best parts are Albert's forays into the animal point of view & folklore explorations. So, here are those guidelines for badgers & badger-lovers: The Badger Rules of Thumb
1. De parvis, grandis acerbus erit, or from small things, there will grow a mighty heap. In the common parlance: “Many littles make a mickle, many mickles make a mile.”
2. Be wary of all dogs, & especially of terriers who have been taught to tunnel, for it is safe to say that they do not have a badger’s best interests at heart.
3. The Aiding & Abetting Rule: One must be helpful to one’s fellow creatures, large & small, for one never knows when one will require help oneself.
4. Every male badger is expected to leave his place of birth & establish a new sett of his own, unless the senior badger of the sett has elected him to receive the Badger Badge of Authority, which entitles him to manage the sett.
5. All badgers should practice the art of hospitality, gladly accommodating any animal who finds himself temporarily without bed, board, or a roof, and turning away only those who would be a danger to their neighbors.
Corollary to Rule of Thumb 5:
A badger’s table should be spread in generous abundance, with enough food for any visitors who happen by at mealtimes.
2nd Corollary to Rule of Thumb 5:
Every guest deserves a place at the table where he or she can eat undisturbed and unafraid. This is why a rabbit can sit between a fox and a ferret and eat and laugh and tell stories without the slightest apprehension.
6. Do not openly criticize your friend’s living & dining arrangements.
7. One may hope for friends at the door, but one is well-advised to anticipate enemies.
8. It is rude to criticize another animal’s story, no matter how wanting in art it might be. Every animal’s story is one of the most important things about him (or her); for animals are storying creatures and live by their tales & the tales they have learnt from others. One’s stories are as important to one’s self-esteem as are one’s fur & whiskers & ought to be admired in much the same way.
9. Young badgers are to be nurtured & guided every day. While learning is important, play is the work of the young. They should have some chores & time to make merry every day.
10. All badgers, regardless of sex, age, & state of health, are important to the well-being of the badger clan and must be honored for the roles they play in maintaining a stable and productive community life.
11. Never wake a sleeping dragon, for your flesh is firm & fat & tastes good grilled.
12. When you’re helping yourself in someone else’s garden or larder, you must be mindful of the others who depend upon the same food. Enough is as good as a feast, & it is a well-mannered badger (or rabbit) who leaves a fair share for the gardener & the cook.
13. It is impolite to inquire about missing ears (or parts of ears), torn fur or feathers, missing paws, & other injuries. Animals are prone to accident & the world is full of traps, snares, & hunting parties.
14. Our badger ancestors have crossed the bridge to the Back of Beyond, but their spirits are constantly with us, in the form of what humans like to call “ghosts.” The prudent badger is mindful of their presence, & always behaves as if he is in the company of watchful elders.
15. It is the better part of wisdom to keep one’s head when one is confronted with catastrophe, calamity, or cataclysm. Losing one’s head never solves anything.
16. The prudent badger assesses the situation, determines a course of action, & speedily gathers the appropriate resources. Such badgers should be called upon for leadership whenever the clan is in need of help.
17. Hold a true friend with both paws, but be willing to let him or her go when the time comes. It is an impropriety to inquire into the whereabouts of one’s absent friends, companions & acquaintances, for life in wood & field is prone to accident.
18. If a fox, (or any other predator) is intent on helping himself to a sitting duck (or any other prey) there’s nothing of consequence a badger can (or should) do about it.
19. Each Rule of Thumb should be honored, as a thousand years of Badger History have proved its usefulness & utility. As a badger grows in age & experience, obedience to the Rules of Thumb is to be tempered with wisdom as each animal faces new dilemmas & enemies.
Felicity HufflePuff Hedgehog, widely known by her stage name, Felicity Hogg, died suddenly, at home, in her cage, on Friday, September 16th, 2011.
Born on the Winter Solstice in 2007, Felicity was the star of "Hello, Hedgehogs!", a storytelling extravaganza, accompanied by her human associate, Ellie Shinham, and Pinkie Moon, her cage companion.
Particularly beloved of children, Felicity would not exit a classroom until she had visited with every single student. In all her long and illustrious career as an entertainer, Felicity bit only one child. And it must be said that that little one's hands were sweaty.
Felicity will be greatly missed. "Hello, Hedgehogs!" is currently in hiatus while Pinkie Moon is training to take over Felicity's role. Pinkie has demanded a new contract involving vast quantities of mealworms. This developing story will be watched closely.
Rest in Peace, Felicity HufflePuff Hedgehog. May you cross the Rainbow Bridge to a place of abundant hiding spots, endless food, and new things to sniff, where no one ever bathes you or clips your nails.