I stopped looking at the Daily Coyote photos a while back. Something about that face—Charlie, the coyote—his fur tipped with snow or eyes that looked out from such a wild face, knowing that he, and his owner, lived in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Ten Sleep is where my aunt Margie’s parents lived; not many people know about Ten Sleep. Not many people have even been to Wyoming much less Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Today, I took a look at the “Daily Coyote” photo—the quote drew me in: “Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes” — Walt Whitman. How beautiful is that?
Looking into Charlie’s wild eyes, remembering how much I love Wyoming and how I used to traipse around the prairie, blowing up monster-size anthills with Black Cat & Zebra firecrackers, reveling in the openness that goes on forever, the road that ribbons out for miles with not one single car to interrupt the silence. Only the wind—wind across dry prairieland full of sage and cactus and gullies that haven’t seen water in an eternity. There is magic there. It calls to something inside me, something buried deep in my heart. I think of my mother that last day of her life, lying there in her bed, when she looked at me as clear as day with those soft brown eyes of hers, and said: Four young Indian boys are watching over me; they’re about fourteen, with long braids. She lies on a high hill in Gillette Wyoming at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery among pioneers and veterans and members of the American Legion. Most of her family is there, too. I remember the day I visited, sitting in the grass, surrounded by all the Tarver names, some I remembered, others had passed long ago.
Those “Charlie photos” stir up all sorts of feelings and for some reason, they are tinged with sadness. I always dreamed of having my very own piece of Wyoming. A place where I could sit and listen to the wind, hear the yips of far-away coyotes. A place I didn’t have to walk away from and go back to reality. As the years pass and life interferes, I hold onto the dream. Perhaps Charlie will help me find a way.
Photo credit: Shreve Stockton, The Daily Coyote