On occasion, living in the mountains gives rise to a story or two, and this morning’s incident is a prime example. The snow plows woke me at 6 a.m. as they rumbled down the road at 30 mph, their scrapers making enough racket to disturb the dead. It was pitch dark outside, the sun remaining well below the mountains, but now fully awake I rose and let my dog Molly outside to do her morning duty while I made coffee.
As I poured water into the coffee maker, Molly began barking with deliberate urgency. She had retreated to the safety of the front porch and when I opened the door, gratefully ran inside whining and pacing to and fro and looking at me as if to say, “There is something out there stupid.” Often deer and elk visit, or a raccoon, or fox, and on one occasion, Molly learned that chasing a skunk is not a good idea. However, the only other time she acted so excited and disturbed was when a mountain lion decided to walk across our parking lot, but that was in broad daylight.
I grabbed my torch and stepped outside to have a look around, while Molly cowered behind my legs, still whining and sniffing the air. I saw nothing unusual, but then as I was about to go back inside I heard him. Not twenty yards away, a howl pierced the early morning air sending chills up my spine. I am told wolves seldom, if ever, attack humans, but without provocation will do violence to a dog. I shined the light in the direction of the howl but the source was hidden in the darkness and I saw nothing. The heck with seeing the animal, the howl was encouragement enough to send Molly and me scurrying back inside to double lock the door.
Wolves have visited our cabin before, but have never come so close. Once Renee and I watched as a pack chased an elk across the river. Smart cow that she was, she hid under the porch of the cabin across the river. The wolves circled the cabin from a safe distance not daring to come closer to a human residence. After a few minutes, they tired of the game and went up the mountain to find easer prey. On other occasions, we have heard wolves howling to one another, their cries echoing in the mountains, but always from a respectable distance.
This was the first time I encountered Canis Lupis this year. There is something about a wolf howling in the dead of night that makes me scurry about the cabin to make sure all the doors are locked. Doesn’t matter that I know a wolf would never come onto our porch much less enter an open door, but a locked door gives one a sense of security. From the safety of her bed, Molly agrees.
Angel (Anjali DeWitt MacAngel)