Thursday, February 2, 2012

Coyote, the Trickster...

In many American Indian cultures, Old Man Coyote is a mythological trickster figure. He is forever playing pranks on Humans, or Rabbit, Lizard, Bear, you name it, whoever he happens to come into contact with. Invariably these pranks end poorly for Coyote, they backfire and Coyote is left to lick his wounds, if he is lucky enough to still have a tongue in his mouth. Just as often, and as was made clear by the popular Roadrunner television cartoon, all that may be left is a smoking ruin of what was once Coyote. Underlying all Coyote tales is a lesson of learning, a sharing of wisdom.

Anyway, I recently encountered Coyote on the bike path. I was riding along at a decent pace when I apparently startled and flushed him from the brush alongside the asphalt. He ran along in front of me for a good 75 yards or so, checking over his shoulder occasionally, before disappearing again into the thick-growing brush. I am sure he watched me go by, though I did not see him glowering after me, and I continued on my way. About 20, maybe 25 minutes later I came back along the same stretch of path and in that spot where Coyote fled in terror before my humming wheels I found this:

Coincidence? I think not. His little statement was too expertly placed right on that word bike to be anything other than planned. What I am not so sure about is whether this was directed at the steady flow of bicyclists who pass through his home, or whether his message was specific for me, for disrupting his morning. I am convinced he was relaxing there, beside the path, maybe with a beer at hand (or paw), trying to think of a way out of another days worth of work when I inadvertently happened by. Old Man Coyote is forever scheming, thinking of ways to get people to do his work for him. Who knows, maybe the start caused him to lose that instant flicker of an idea, that grand scheme that would have forever changed his world.

If you have never read any of the adventures of Coyote, try Giving Birth To Thunder, Sleeping With His Daughter, by Barry Holstun Lopez. Some of the tales of Coyote can get pretty raunchy, that's how Coyote is.

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