Deer peacefully eating the perennials in our backyard

The deer have been in our yard even more than usual. Since we had several inches of snow this past week, their ordinary supply of grasses has been hidden and the ground cover in our landscape must be looking very tasty. These two does were right next to the patio and undeterred by my face in the window or the madly barking dogs jumping frantically behind the glass doors.  Sometimes I let the pugs out to chase them, which is fun to watch.  The deer go along with the game, running and leaping gracefully off into the woods, flicking their white tails as they go.  (Flicking off the dogs, you might say.)…..But this morning there was a bigger drama unfolding as I watched out the window.

I was only half awake when I saw the caravan of does and fawns walking easily along across the snowy yard, up over the mound and heading toward the woods.  Suddenly, they turned and ran the other way faster than I usually see them run, prancing high over the snow as they went.  I wondered what was so fearsome in this haven we provide for them. Then I saw him.

Coyote walking through the back yard


The coyote was big. We’ve seen many coyotes here over the years, but this one was unusually hefty and obviously well-fed.  He was definitely the alpha canine on this farm! He wasn’t running after the deer, he didn’t have to, but looked used to having the waters part when he wanted to come through. Calmly following their path, was he planning to go after one of the fawns when the time was right?  I have been hoping I won’t find a carcass next spring.

One if my favorite reference books,  The Ohio Nature Almanac edited by Stephen Ostrander, has a beautiful and informative essay about Canis Latrans, which translates as “barking dog.”  He describes them:

They are simultaneously scheming, foolish, opportunistic, sneaky, sociable among their own kind, vengeful, suspicious of others and learned.  In other words, coyotes are us in canine cloth.  And perhaps their most unforgivable sin is their snub of humanity.  They avoid us, run from us and refuse to fetch a stick.

The book also says that they are present in 48 states and all of Ohio’s 88 counties.  They mainly eat rodents and other small animals while avoiding humans, but are a danger to domestic dogs and cats.  While I’m generally not afraid of coyotes, this one gave me a chill down my spine!

I got a chill watching the Golden Globes last night, too.   My radar sounded when I saw many beautiful young women and men looking anorexic in their designer clothes.  These are the stars that many of us are fascinated by and aspire to be like:  rich, famous, and very thin. We can pretend otherwise, but our culture says that it is how success looks.  In contrast, today I went to Walmart in an effort to buy some wear-around sweatpants, and they only seem to stock clothes in XL and up to XXXXL.  So, what is that telling us about reality, the goals we aspire to, the trappings of success?  Would you rather wear Armani or shop at Walmart?  What do you have to do to get there?

I don’t want to oversimplify.  Eating Disorders are extremely complex and research is showing them to be highly biologically based. Watching the Golden Globes won’t make your daughter risk her life through starvation.  But it’s also impossible to ignore the obvious.  A sensitive person struggling with the confusion of puberty, the disappointment of a relationship, questions of self worth, fear of the future, or a myriad of other issues may just see thinness as a way to be special, childlike, simplified…and successful.  Then, for the susceptible the ED takes on a life of its own.

Maybe we all need to howl about that.