This morning I watched while a coyote asked some innocent questions of four recalcitrant deer. The coyote was alone, and one of the young ladies was kind enough to step closer, probably to be sure she would be heard over the sound of melting snow and exhaling sage.
“Excuse me,” the little dog began.
The group of deer looked plainly put out already, so they gathered and drew mental straws to appoint a spokesdoe. She turned half to him – a lesser show of respect could hardly have been arranged – and said “indeed.”
Coy-dog lifted a paw and twitched a tall ear. His mien was all apprehension. “No, I just, I don’t know… Why did you say ‘indeed?'”
The deer turned back, half-lidded eyes under the shade of the foothills. She nibbled a columbine flower and said “why wouldn’t I?”
“Right. That’s fair.”
Little happened for a moment or two, save the scratching of a squirrel at the cold bark of a pine. An aspen branch jumped up, relieved of its heavy load of wet Spring snow. The plump little rabbit under the creosote bush did as next to nothing as possible. The coyote put his paw down, twitched his other ear in a way that looked like he didn’t mean to, and started:
“I was just -” the deer turned in no hurry and stepped twice towards the coyote. He loaded his haunches and glanced behind him, then back at the deer, and continued “-just wanting to wish you a good morning.”
The coyote turned back and carried his heavy tail down through the buffalo grass, away from the cresting sun. The deer, for some reason, waited a few minutes and then followed.