Klean Voices: Wild In the City

It was early on a Saturday morning, and I was sitting at the dining room table by the big front window, answering some emails while my one-and-a-half year old ate grapes. I looked up from the screen and there was a coyote, running down the middle of our street, with a swirl of crows cawing above it. The coyote ran the stop sign, turned right and headed up the alley. I grabbed the kiddo and ran to the window so he could see it, but it was gone in a flash. Then my five year old woke up and started crying because he had missed all the excitement. So we decided to go outside and see if we could track the coyote. We put boots and jackets over jammies, and we were out the door.


Our alley is wild. It isn't paved; it's a natural strip of grass with mud and blackberry brambles and big Portland dandelions. It was a beautiful spring morning. The grass was lush and wet. The sun shone on the puddles. The boys splashed. We heard a woodpecker. We didn't find coyote tracks, but just being out there was enough. The idea of a coyote, something wild in our neighborhood; the fact that our story and the coyote's story touched -- that was exciting enough. For a little while on a regular Saturday morning, our world expanded, our imaginations expanded. Where did the coyote go? How would you track a coyote? Are they friends with the crows? Maybe it's looking for a dry place to rest? Will it come back?

Nature isn't something separate, it's all around us. I want my boys to know wild things and wild places, even here in our own backyard. I want them to be filled with wonder and love for the world. Instead of being scared by it, we can learn from it, be humbled by it, celebrate it, be made whole by it. I want my boys to feel connected to something larger than themselves, to have an all-encompassing concept of neighbors, community, family.

Today we saw a coyote. The world is full of beautiful surprises.

Klean Voice Contributor Amy Kober is the Senior Director of Communications at American Rivers, as well as the mother of two little boys. She lives in Portland, Oregon.