Today began like no other day in my life.
I started house sitting two days ago at a remote north Atlanta home that is situated on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. I've been taking care of 'Joe', a friendly, yet instinctual canine. We've wandered the rather large property together several times for some exercise, played fetch with a large stick in an expansive field (though I'm usually fetching the stick from Joe's mouth as he doesn't quite get the concept), and napping in the house.
Joe startled me awake this morning with some rather ferocious barking. I bumbled sleepy-eyed toward him and when I looked out the window I saw a canine-shaped specter drifting across the backyard. Joe kept barking at the top of his lungs, and clearly the creature heard him, because its large ears perked up and its head turned to look at the two of us as it continued to cruise across the yard.
Before leaving, Joe's owner warned me that the remote property had wild visitors from time to time, and among the most recent sightings were coyotes. The owner told me I would usually only hear them and that they would either howl or sound like dogs fighting. Of course it's a bad idea to let Joe out when they are around because his territorial instincts would kick in, he'd chase them down, and then find himself completely outmatched.
So, here I am at five o'clock in the morning with Joe barking his head off, staring out the back window with a coyote staring right back at me. The coyote trotted off to the left and disappeared into the woods. Joe was on high alert for the rest of the morning.
My encounters with wildlife had just begun, though. After I fed Joe and took him on an observed walk, I walked out to my car for an appointment. I had just cranked my car and headed up the driveway, when a LARGE buck crossed in front of me. I just stopped and stared.
My 'appointment' was with a soup kitchen where I have been volunteering lately. Since my friend Ashley asked me to go with her a little over a month ago, I have been (almost) every Thursday to the Open Door Community on Ponce de Leon Avenue near downtown Atlanta. Today was a Thanksgiving meal, which was quite a bit more elaborate than usual. For starters, there were at least three times the usual amount of volunteers. As you can imagine there were quite a bit more people to be served than normal too, so the place was packed to the gills with people. I think the final number served was 316. The food was also much better. I don't know where it came from... probably a local church, but it was all the traditional Thanksgiving food. Turkey, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, green beans, dressing and gravy, and much more.
As usual, after all of the homeless people were served, the volunteers cleaned up, and then shared the leftovers together. Our meal is always preceded by a time of prayer, scripture reading and reflection. Today we learned that one of the regulars was found dead this morning outside a homeless shelter. No cause was given, but we prayed for him, his family, and the all other homeless people who live like he did.
I came 'home' to find Joe giddy and excited to see me. We immediately went on one of our long walks and as we were strolled along the Chattahoochee, I saw a beautiful crane. We came back to the house, where we chilled out and watched some TV (some show about how to survive in the Sahara desert, where the host gutted a camel and used it for shelter [yuck!]), when I heard very soft howling through the living room windows. It seems the coyotes are still around.
Links of Interest
Two Dollar Trick
Drumline Meets Revenge of the Nerds
Save the Paper Towel Forests
The Elevator of Conformity. How would YOU react?