I write novels, so I should be accustomed to writing those scary moments that keep the readers on the edge of their seats. But imagine how I felt when I found myself spooked during the middle of the night the other week.
It was during the early hours of the morning when I heard sharp, high pitched scream from outside my bedroom window. My eyes snapped open and I suddenly realized my room was flooded with bright, white light from the motion sensor lights outside. Normally they just flick on and off after a few seconds, but this particular evening they stayed on for at least ten minutes. I could feel my heart begin to pound in my chest. Then my creative mind went into overdrive. Was there something actually in the room? Was there someone in the house? Was there an intruder outside?
I quickly checked on my yellow lab, Lily, who sleeps on her own comfy bed at the foot of mine. When I glanced over, I saw that she was snoring peacefully. How could she have not heard that ear piercing scream? I looked for Kitty, my feral cat. He wasn’t in his usual place lying next to her. Instead he was silhouetted against the windows, his body stiff as a board. I knew then something was amiss. I called his name quietly, but his eyes stayed firmly fixed between the wooden slats looking downwards, to the outside.
I padded across the room and picked him up gently. At first he was resistant to be drawn away from the window. But I wrapped him in my arms and took him back to bed with me. I stroked him, hoping to calm both our nerves, wishing I could hear his gentle purr, but his body language told me something else. He was still on high alert as his ears flicked back and forth almost as if he could hear something else. I took a long, deep breath then listened for other sounds from around the house. But nothing.
Finally, the motion sensor’s switched off. Left in the dark I switched on my side lamp. It cast warm glow around the room which I found remarkably soothing. But what was that sound I heard? And what was Kitty so frightened of?
I tucked the bedsheets round me then reached for my ipad. My finger tapped the security camera program and within minutes I was able to bring up the visuals on the screen. I saw nothing unusual as I flicked through the different camera views. Then I played them back and waited.
The area I concentrated on first was just outside my room. For a few moments it was in complete darkness…then suddenly a flash of bright white light. And there was the culprit! A large coyote. Long ears, thin face, long snout and a very bushy tail.
It trotted into view…but it was not alone. It was followed by a second…and then a third. I watched mesmerized as they dashed around, playing and jumping over each other. Then they stopped. Their ears pricked up, they raised their noses, catching any scent in the air and ran off.
Relief, I finally felt relief knowing what was going on. What had started off as scary, now turned into a mission filled with curiosity.
I checked the rest of the cameras, and sure enough I was able to track the pack.
They came from the depths of the back garden. Cautiously at first, until they reached the open grassy lawn, they zoomed around at high speed almost as if they were playing “catch.” They stopped only occasionally to sniff at the grass and my flowers, and then to mark their territory. But this wasn’t their territory, this was mine, Lily’s and Kitty’s.
I continued to watch as one sniffed at the side gate and then my garden tools. It looked up at the camera, its eyes glinting, then it crouched down and slid under the wrought iron gate. The motion sensor lit up and I watched the rest follow down the side of the house.
The rest sped back to the driveway, an open area, to continue playing. One hopped up on to the wall. Alert, he padded along the wall then hopped off again.
I continued to watch them for a while until they disappeared into the dark night.
Thankfully there had really been nothing to be scared about at all. It had been a revelation of sorts, a chance to observe a pack of coyotes, investigating and having fun.
When I felt sleepiness overwhelm me, I snuggled back under the covers, this time with Kitty who was purring in my arms.
Since having watched the pack of coyotes play around my home and my garden, it brings home a certain truth; that we are never too far away from the wilds of nature and the nocturnal animals that come with that.
However, now I’m a little more cautious when I let Lily outside at night. I make sure I’m armed with pepper spray, a bright flashlight, and I make sure I’m never two feet away from Lily.
Kitty, the feral loves his outdoor lifestyle during the day, but I make sure he sleeps with me during the night.