I sit reading the Kite Runner, thinking about my own child hood. The regrets, the happy times, the friends I once felt so close to. I wonder how those friendships came and went, how inevitably we would drift apart, make new friends just as Hassan and Amir had.
The sun is still low in the sky, still shining off Lake Mead to the east. RVs and camper trailers are scattered throughout the rocky desert around us. Jets flying in and out of Las Vegas rumble overhead as the sun slowly warms the air and land for another day in the Mojave Desert.
As I read about Amir and his Baba's harrowing journey from occupied Afghanistan to Pakistan and finally the San Francisco area I hear foot steps. Rocks are being displaced as someone or something glides over the dessert. Through a large Creosote bush I see a small brown shape approaching the Van, me and our Camp. The small, limping coyote comes into focus as my mind deciphers the out of place object approaching. The coyote saunters past, into the ditch he goes. He has found my apple core from breakfast and hungrily crunches it down. He again approaches the bush, but this time he is on the side closest to me. He looks at the van's open door and I wonder if he may try to get in and see what types of tasty food are inside. Instead he has found another snack at the base of the bush, in the shade.
His eyes are a blazing orange as he peers into mine. Very close now he seems comfortable yet skittish as he scarfs down the hidden snack just ten or fifteen feet away from where I sit. His back left foot looks tender as he prefers to use his other three. It seems unusual to see a coyote out at this time of day, preferring to scavenge in the evening I always thought; although we have heard them yipping in the early hours of the morning, I had only ever seen them sneaking around in the dark of night. His fur resembles a lion's mane and his stature that of a half sized wolf as he chews at whatever he has found buried in the rocks.
At Yosemite, as we stood around the campfire with our new friends Steven and Rose, a coyote came very close as he did his nightly rounds. Approaching out of the darkness and into the fire light, Steven spotted him before he was able to recede back into the night. At Saline Valley, as we lounged around Hailey and John's fire after a delicious meal, a coyote again approached out of the darkness. Much more nervous and apprehensive, these two retreated when finally spotted by our eyes' poor night vision. Here at Lake Mead I sat and watched our wild friend for what must have been twenty minutes as he searched for food, found it and dined. A mutual trust quickly developed between us. Lyndsay wanted to take him with us as a companion. His love of freedom and adventure couldn't stand that, I figured. And before we knew it he finished his small meal and was gone. He trotted silently away into the dessert, still favouring that rear right leg. His endless search for food continues. Hopefully that leg holds out long enough to heal before his hunger devours him.