It was our second day carrying the Buffalo Blanket in ceremony for all the animals through Yellowstone. We were making our last trip through the park before embarking on the next step of the journey to A Walk on the Wild Side 2015 at Earthfire Institute.
We stayed overnight outside the North entrance, and left early enough to see the elk enjoying breakfast in Mammoth Hot Springs. I particularly enjoyed the elk cow who appeared to be hanging out with the carved stone lion flanking the entrance to the Post Office.
Miles later we saw a lot of cars and people lined up on the opposite side of the road—a very good sign that there was some type of wildlife to be seen.
Stepping out of the car I could feel the excitement, but could not see what everyone was staring at so intently. Whispers said maybe wolf, others maybe coyote. So many people from around the world—I heard many different languages.
Peering into the brush I could sense someone, but could not make out a species. I decided to use my camera like a telescope. I caught a glimpse of an ear, then a back, as someone tugged at something I could not see. It was like putting a moving puzzle together. Finally I realized I was watching a coyote (see all photos).
As the story unfolded (as told by a man who seemed to be connected with park security) it appeared that an elk calf had been hit by a car, and then had collapsed a little ways into the meadow. You could see the blood on the ground where the dying elk had lain.
Wolves had visited the carcass initially, perhaps dragging it behind the screening trees. Being one of the largest predators the wolves had eaten their fill and left, which then allowed the smaller coyote to glean what she could from what remained. The movement I was seeing was her tugging at the rib cage to remove what remained.
It was the first time I had been witness to a scene that I had watched so many times on nature programs—the circle of life where nothing is wasted. Yellowstone is huge, and it is a real gift to be able to see something like this so close to the road. I felt blessed, and offered gratitude for the gift from my heart.
As I watched the coyote feed, I did my best to ground myself and connect without disturbing. I told her how beautiful she was and shared my thanks.
And then the greatest gift of all happened. The coyote emerged from the screening trees and walked right out into the meadow where we could all see her. She was glorious in her wildness with her ruff and muzzle stained with blood, and licking her lips.
The sense I had was that something had spooked her a little, and rather than running off she had decided to move closer to the people which is a really smart move since other predators would be reluctant to do so.
Once in the meadow she relaxed, and continued to move forward toward the people lining the road. By now I had moved down to the end of the row of people where it was not so crowded. To my surprise she began walking in a straight line toward where I was standing, and she paused and looked me right in the eyes from what seemed like only 50 feet away. I almost dropped the camera in surprise. I was not afraid—I felt no aggression from her, and her body language still said relaxed. I might have been imagining things, perhaps due to oxygen deprivation as I discovered I was holding my breath in awe—but I felt as though if I continued to stand there she would have come right up to me.
But it was not to be, the park security man began shouting for everyone to move away and give the coyote space. Every cell in my body rebelled against doing that, and for the first time in my life I had an almost overwhelming desire to ignore the voice of wildlife authority. I talked myself out of such a rash action—it was not fair to everyone else or the coyote. The rules were designed to protect the people from possible harm AND protect the rights of wildlife so that they could go about their daily business with as little interference as possible. But a part of me sure wanted to know what would happen if I just stood still…
After showing herself in all her glory, the coyote returned to the carcass for another check and then headed off into the woods. I tracked her through the brush as long as I could, offering thanks and wishing her good hunting.
By now a few ravens had also shown up, checking to see if there might be a meal left for them. I took a few photos, and then put my camera back in the bag figuring that the amazing encounter was over. Boy, was I wrong!
From over the trees flew a single bald eagle. I stared in amazement, the bald eagle is not listed on any of the park literature. Later I learned that only recently have they reappeared after being gone for many years—the ecosystem of Yellowstone continues to rebalance after the re-introduction of wolves.
And the eagle headed straight toward me. It flew silently about 10 feet above my head before banking off to the right. It all happened so fast that I was only able to take a few shots before the eagle disappeared.
As we resumed our journey with the Buffalo Blanket I truly felt that the animals had blessed us with their prayers, and clearly demonstrated their willingness to join with the people in ceremony to co-create a better world for all. Aho!
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A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.