photos by Jonathan Schechter June 3, 2012
Along Highway 28 - northern Michigan
SETTING THE STAGE: My conservation education/writer friend Amanda Nimke and I were heading back on a 500 mile journey from the northern most tip of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula where we had just attended the annual conference of the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association.
And that's when we came upon the most most incredible roadside berm rich with lupines.
Stop the car! was the unspoken thought we shared.
For the next 45 minutes we crawled on hands and knees and sat in a sweetly scented sea of lupines capturing images of their beauty and the visiting butterflies, bumble bees and dragonflies.
We did not know at the time our presence had been detected by a creature that wanted our blood.
And it was not the coyote.
We drove on talking of the discoveries we made of the relationships between lupine and the visiting insects and the surprises that nature offers inquisitive insects and humans.
More than an hour passed. Suddenly Amanda was shifting in her seat behaving like popcorn in a heated oiled pan. A look of horror painted her face.
Stop the car! And this time it was not to see wildflowers.
She discovered ticks had taken a liking to her and were on their crawling about on their expeditionary mission, "Where do I attach?" they were thinking.
We raced on to the first place for both of us to de-tick, a rest area not far down the road, a rest area we would not have stopped at had we not needed to free ourselves of our unwanted body-riders with a desire for blood, ours. And that series of rapid fire events led to the coyote encounter!
AMANDA TELLS THE REST OF THE STORY BEST:
We saw movement in the tall grass just as we pulled out of the rest area, and then we noticed it was a coyote. The coyote turned and darted over the railroad tracks which caused us to pull over to the edge of the road easement. To our surprise and joy, the coyote popped his head back over and peered back at us over the tracks, sniffing and looking about, panting slightly. (photos above)
This puzzled us as we snapped a few photos. A few minutes passed and the curious coyote turned and dropped back over the berm, out of view.
The only appropriate thing we could think to do was get out and try to see where he went. A few steps off the road easement solved the mystery of this coyote's behavior.
"Ewwwww!" I said out loud wrinkling my nose.
Looking down I saw it - Lunch!
The coyote had been feeding on a road-killed deer, and the movement we noticed was the coyote's attempt to drag it further from the highway. The evidence of drag marks in the grass were clear.
The encounter is something we shall both remember for a long time. The simple act of stopping to photograph wildflowers began the events that lead to perfect timing to meet a beautiful and curious coyote with its own agenda: roadside lunch.
Back home around 2 a.m. I made a discovery: I too hosted a hitch hiker.
Mine was unfortunately firmly attached.
But I smiled as I thought back to our encounter with the most beautiful coyote I have ever seen.
And now we have shared that story with you.
Blog by Amanda Nimke and Jonathan Schechter