There’s not a lot of pictures for this post and there’s a good reason for that. I was busy. There was neither time nor hands to fiddle with a camera that day. So, you’ll just have to use your imagination.
I had parked the car and unloaded my work bags. The sun was setting so i grabbed the watering can and began taking the spigot lock off the side of the well house to water the fruit trees before dark. I was tired and lost in my own thoughts. As i trudged past the electricity pole with the bucket of water something glinting in the late evening sun caught my eye. It was a web. A really big web; stretched from a yucca plant all the way to the pole. It was like a giant triangle. As i looked closer i realized it was the web of a golden orb weaver. I dropped my bucket and ran. It was indeed! It was Charlotte! I would know her anywhere. For one, she was huge; much bigger than ruby. Also, she had more orange on her legs than her sister. It was definitely Charlotte. She was so much more plump than her sister; quite an impressive spider. I could not believe it! I had thought she was dead for a couple weeks. I was so relieved to see her alive and well. Her web was even more magnificent than the last two. I thanked the lord for bringing Charlotte back to me and called Sili and Cashew to tell them the good news. I called them but they didn’t come. I told Charlotte how sorry i was about the praying mantis and how worried i was that it ate her. I told her to stay in her new spot as the porch was too dangerous while they knew to look for her there. I was so happy! It felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders and my heart was light and airy. The sun was sinking into the trees; filtering through the branches in orange patches on the dry, crunchy leaves. Nightfall was coming. I had to hurry if i wanted to water and tend to the plants in the daylight. I took one last look at Charlotte, picked up my bucket, and headed for the fruit trees. Cashew was at the fence sniffing the air. As i trudged through the tall dry grasses something jumped in front of me. It ran past my face, 2 feet away from my body at most. As my brain switched back on and i returned from my thoughts i realized what it was; a white tailed deer, a young one. In slow motion i saw the realization spread across Cashew’s face. The chase was on. I looked around for its herd but saw no other deer. I thought to myself, “that’s strange, the deer out here are so skittish i’ve only seen one on the property twice. They would usually never come that close, and i’d never seen one run with such urgency. It was young; barely even a year. It was too young to survive outside the protection of its herd and was at an age where it would usually still be looking to an older doe to teach it the abc’s of survival and grazing. What was it doing out here without any trace of its herd?” In the distance i heard yelping and yipping through the trees. Now it made sense! Suddenly the yipping was louder. They were tracking the deer! Oh shit! I realized too late. As my brain worked a million miles an hour to put the pieces together and i opened my mouth to call the dogs a sizable coyote flew through the seven foot hole in my fence, tearing off in the direction both the deer and my dogs had gone. I was screaming now, “cashew, sili…” two more coyotes flew past me without so much as a glance. One straight down the path and the third one along the left side of the property through the grass. I could see nothing as i ran. They were all swifter than i in my clumsy steel-toed boots. I screamed with everything i had in my most authoritative voice i could muster in complete panic, “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” As i rounded the other side of the house i could see the deer had doubled back, realizing perhaps she could not outrun the coyotes in a straight sprint. They were hot on her heels, and to my horror, so were my dogs. The coyotes were busy with the doe and didn’t seem willing to address their instantly acquired running mates yet. My dogs were just splendidly thrilled to be part of something. I had to cut my dogs out of the pack before they caught up to this doe and their attention became unoccupied. I could hear my voice but i didn’t recognize it. I was saying, “shit, shit, shit, shit!” I was running after the group as fast as i could in those clunky boots, machete swinging wildly from my belt. When i opened my mouth a wavering shaky command escaped in a thunderous volume. I was almost screeching, “Let’s go, now!!! Now now now!!!” Within seconds both my dogs were on the porch, waiting for me. I couldn’t believe they listened. I ran to the door. I grabbed both their collars, dragged them inside, and didn’t turn back, leaving the coyotes to their prey. Two minutes later there would be wild coyote yipping from the neighbor’s property. I didn’t guess the doe survived. I collapsed and slid down the wall into a heap of adrenalin on the floor. I looked at my dogs in astonishment, “you listened.” They looked at me, panting. I said again, “i can’t believe you listened.” I was beyond ecstatic they were both safely in the house at this time. I had thought for sure at least one would be coyote dessert that night. And yet both of them had left the excitement, come when i called, and they were safely in the house behind the closed door. I had never seen anything like it. I’d never forget the sight of my two dogs running alongside coyotes, as if they belonged there, all hunting together. They looked like fluffy dogs with slender legs and thick tails except that their eyes were wild and yellow. I wrapped my arms around both dogs and held on. I was so very grateful that they chose this one time to listen. I kept them very close to the house that night. Wherever those coyotes were with the remnants of that deer, i didn’t want my dogs sauntering up to ask for their fair share of the dinner they had helped to rustle up.