David Garden was walking through Central Park when he spotted a coyote — likely the same one that has been living there for the past year.
Perhaps because this coyote is wild, dangerous-but-not-menacing, and alone, it tends to inspire people to think about their human condition (now more than ever!). David had some thoughts you should read:
Coyotes in Central Park. It’s not unusual at quarter to midnight, during the big dog off-leash hours in Central Park, to suddenly spy an unattended dog in your path while walking your own. My first response recently has been to immediately leash Grace, my Rottweiler, because of her bad leg from beating bone cancer.
Tonight though, as I hear the clasp of her leash close, metal on metal on a cold night, something primal sparks in my brain, something too familiar from years living on a mesa outside Taos, New Mexico. That is not a dog staring us down twenty feet away. It is a Coyote. Twenty feet away from us, less than a hundred yards in from Columbus Circle, closer even to the wall along 59th Street.
This is Manhattan. Coyotes, god’s dog, do not belong here. Or rather, humans don’t belong here, but we’ve tricked nature long enough for it to have forgotten that. Tonight, the Coyote seems not so convinced.
The stupid bumbling human goes for his camera and the Coyote shifts. And I immediately forget the device in my hand- some things being too beautiful to be seen more than once by one. A sliver of light ruffles through her fur, then a flick of a tail, as the coyote swipes left on civilization and darts away- hurried but not scared. More seeming unimpressed, as if collectively mankind had just asked her for spare change when she had a downtown B-Train to catch.
I manage to snap a few blurred photos as the coyote fades to black. I then retreat with Grace, to create space for the coyote but truly, to move closer to the lights and glass of the too far away Time Warner Center.
Then the second coyote. Or maybe it’s the first again, having circled around just to mess with our heads. Simply standing under a lamp post, like a star in a Broadway spotlight, who sticks around for a few fumbled fan photos. Then the coyote goes- maybe south, maybe east, maybe in the mysterious seventh direction. Fast. A shadow behind a tree. A coyote trick of the light. Gone.
Grace and I linger on the lawn awhile, me alert and holding fast to the delusion that wire fencing and an asphalt pathway are enough to ward off wildlife, and wondering if this new New Yorker and his limping Rottweiler and whatever loud track I could bring up on Spotify are menacing enough in case the coyotes are feeling anxious and uncertain, like most residents of this island, and circle back.
Awhile later, I tug on Grace’s leash to say it’s finally time to head home. Almost out of the park, she tugs back, pivots, sniffs. Takes a long moment to stare intently into the distant darkness, seeing a world people cannot see. But one that we can maybe sometimes glimpse- and be reminded that Manhattan’s majesty is not all us. And it will be here when we are not.
Where is there enough space in Central Park for a coyote to sleep during the day, and not be disturbed by anyone? The most woodsy portions of the park are, probably, in the North woods, but almost every square inch of it is readily visible or accessible from a walking path. Maybe there are more woodsy parts in the Southwest corner, near the bird sanctuary, that people never walk around?
Central Park may feel as if it’s all a Norman Rockwell painting and there’s no stone left unturned. While both may be true — it is virtually every square inch conceived in someone’s mind — there still is plenty of very heavy bush and unlit woodland for fauna to find ample refuge.
I’ve also met a coyote in that part of the park, perhaps the same one, and around the same time, midnight or so, while walking our two year old Doodle, Bowie. Just by the underpass to the West of the ice rink, right in the same area. I heard a swoosh of movement just feet behind me, that landed a chill up my spine, like a ghost. I turned, expecting perhaps to see a dog, from the shape maybe a German Shepherd, but was immediately struck by the realization there was no handler and no collar.
I froze, taking some time to comprehend in that context what my eyes were processing. Seeing a potential new friend, Bowie ran after her until I shouted at a decibel he’d never heard me register, and he stopped in his tracks, both of us staring at the mysterious creature whose sheer presence I still failed to fully register. The coyote casually jumped a 4ft fence and turned back to watch us for a beat, seeming as perplexed at our presence as we were of hers. I leashed
Bowie and slowly backed away, appreciating the surreal, beautiful moment as much as taking a breath again.
Is that the now urban Wile E. Coyote, replacing Pizza Rat as the city’s favorite mascot? Or maybe he’s just out celebrating Earth Day.
Y’all are walking your dogs in the park at midnight?!
CP is “open” until 1AM, but have seen persons inside later. Especially if walking along CPW above say 86th street; you only have to glance into the park and see people walking their dogs, or just out themselves.
How beautifully Brad and Seth both describe their encounters. A pleasure read.
Thank you for sharing with us, David.
I saw it too! 4/21/20 around 10:30pm. It was running around near the reservoir on the West side.
Love the picture. Miss Central Park. Need a walk by Bow Bridge and the Reservoir. Stay safe & strong everyone.
Beautiful. Thank you. I needed that.
I have seen Coyotes in Mesa Arizona!