Out in the cuts

Here in Carneros I enjoy living close to the country. As I write this, I look out of my bedroom window and watch a covey of young quail peck their way through a field looking for food.

It sometimes seems I can’t walk anywhere without flushing a jack rabbit from the bushes. I’ve run into several snakes, even catching one, and one of my favorite parts of sitting out on the patio as night falls is watching the owls come swooping out of their roosts while making their haunting and weird calls.

One night last week I was up late. I had had a cup of coffee late in the day and the result was I couldn’t sleep. I was up at around 3 a.m. watching a Sherlock Holmes show on PBS, and kinda dozing off when I was snapped awake by a blood-chilling series of howls and shrieks. A pack of coyotes was running past our house letting lose a cacophony of snarls, yelps and vicious sounding growls. I jumped out of my chair and grabbed a spotlight, but when I flashed the field with the light all the noise stopped.

All I could see, at the furthest limit of the light, was just a row of coyote eyes staring back at me and shining in the night. I thought about grabbing my .22 and taking a few potshots at them, but shooting into the night at a vague target is never really smart. Instead I just watched them as one-by-one the coyotes turned away from the light and walked off into the vineyards.

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