A “beautifully written” tribute to this tenacious and much-misunderstood creature of the wild (Bill McKibben).
When Catherine Reid returned to the Berkshires to live after decades away, she became fascinated by another recent arrival: the eastern coyote. This species, which shares some lineage with the wolf, exhibits remarkable adaptability and awe-inspiring survival skills. In fact, coyotes have been spotted in nearly every habitable area available—including urban streets, New York’s Central Park, and suburban backyards.
Settling into an old farmhouse with her partner, Reid felt compelled to learn more about this outlaw animal. Her beautifully grounded memoir interweaves personal and natural history to comment on one of the most dramatic wildlife stories of our time. With great appreciation for this scrappy outsider and the ecological concerns its presence brings to light, Reid suggests that we all need to forge a new relationship with this uncannily intelligent species in our midst.
“More than a book about nature . . . a narrative about home and family, and about human attitudes toward the wild and unfamiliar.” —The Boston Globe
“A captivating read, worthy of joining the pantheon of literary ecological writing.” —Booklist
“Enlightening . . . a heartfelt, often poetic case for coexistence between humans and the wild.” —Publishers Weekly
In popular eco-consciousness, the coyote is sometimes seen as the new roadrunner nature's consummate survivor, impudently sidestepping every ponderous, overtechnologized scheme humanity concocts to exterminate it while expanding its range into exurbs the continent over. In this engaging, if sometimes slightly overwrought, homage, poet and naturalist Reid is beguiled by the indomitable coyotes howling around her Massachusetts farmstead. She pores over their droppings, bones up on their biology, falls into Darwinian reveries over their interbreeding with wolves and gleans sociocultural insights and life lessons from them. In their existence on the margins, she sees parallels with her experience as a lesbian. Their predations prompt musings on the human capacity for violence; their openness to change and the blurring of species boundaries offers an unsettling paradigm of postmodern adaptability; while the example of their perseverance helps the author cope with her lover's hip-replacement surgery. The animals occasionally whimper under the weight of metaphor and anthropomorphizing, as when Reid imagines the first coyote-wolf coupling as a tender, unlikely romance. But Reid also offers enlightening passages about coyote communication, transformations in her local landscape and the concept of interspecies "mutualism," while making a heartfelt, often poetic case for coexistence between humans and the wild, however red in tooth and claw.