The wolf is my spirit animal. Any opportunity to engage a live wolf up-close, erases all common sense, thoughts of others. I’d joined the Wilderness Rangers in hopes of an opportunity like the one facing me today, across a tree-ringed meadow.
I’d spotted the wolf when our group arrived at a small hut used for warmth in winter and getting out of the rain during other seasons. While my companions ate lunch and socialized, I’d headed around the edge of the meadow, hoping to secure a clear view of the wolf. And, I did. What a magnificent specimen she was, face fur whiter than new snow, ears appeared soft like down, twitching as my movements snapped a twig. But she stayed, no fear in those eyes that located mine, just a steady, knowing depth.
“Exquisite beast, No?” The voice, just off my right shoulder, startles me.
“Oh, I thought I was alone.” I blush when I see the male equivalent of a wolf next to me, his face softened by a short beard, curly hair closely cropped, his blue-gray eyes mesmerizing.
I quickly turn back to the wolf in the meadow. “He’s not a beast, you know. Wolves are intelligent creatures. Perhaps more than humans.”
He laughs, then, a patronizing yet friendly chuckle. “Ah, so you are ‘friend of wolves’ now?”
“Do I know you?” I look more closely at his face but find nothing familiar.
“I observed you at the hiking club meeting last week.”
“But you aren’t with the group today?” The vibes from him are not as comfortable as I’d like, but if he was a late arriver to the group I’d joined for today’s hike, I could calm my anxiety.
“Alas, no. I was too late to join.” He smiles, and I notice him peering over my shoulder toward where that group waited behind me. “But, the hike sounded interesting and I decided to enjoy it alone.”
Yes, he was alone, that I could see, and carrying only a daypack, just like the rest of us. He also has a very nice set of binoculars hanging from his neck and a camera with a long lens hanging near his hip.
“May I borrow your binoculars? I’d love to get a closer view of the wolf.”
As he hands them to me, I gasp. “They’re so light! Oh, my – Leica. These must have cost a fortune!”
I train my eyes on the wolf, still watching us from across the meadow. “The view is outstanding. It’s as if I’m standing next to her, could touch her fur. Oh, those eyes – such a deep, piercing blue. Most adult wolves eyes are gold not blue!”
“Would you like me to take a photo for you?”
“Oh, would you?” I know I sound too eager, but I notice his camera is also a Leica. This guy must be rich. Then I realize how dopey my excitement must sound.
He’s already taking photos, not reacting to my words, so I lift the binoculars to my eyes again, watch the wolf watching us.
Our enjoyment soon ends, however, as something startles the wolf. “That was a quick disappearing act,” I say, disappointed.
“I know where the den is located.”
“Yes, I could show you.”
“Oh, but I’m with the group.” I gesture toward the top of the hill, though don’t turn away from him. He shrugs his shoulders and nods his head toward the hut. I spin around.
The area near the hut, where the group had been eating lunch, now appears empty and I don’t hear any sounds. When did they depart? Didn’t anyone notice I was missing? I had mentioned my intention to Marianne – or did I? I remember I tried to, but she was chatting with the director and I grew impatient, just left. So nobody knows I am gone.
“I think you are alone .. ?”
A statement, a question – I hesitate, still puzzled over the group’s departure. Finally, I understand what he is asking.
“Tegan,” I said. “And you are?”
I sigh. “I suppose I should try to catch up with them.” I say this but I have no idea where they are headed next. I’d failed to pick up one of the maps at the start of the trip. because I’d arrived late. I just figured we’d remain together. With this big of a group, I’d decided, not everyone needed a map. I figured wrong.
“Or, you could stay with me. I could show you the den.”
I stare into those intense, blue eyes, hooked, my heart beating fast, my gut sounding cautionary bells that I don’t want to hear. Forcing my eyes away from his face, I glance toward the top of the hill, consider again the discomfort in my gut and make my decision. “Okay. Show me the den.”
** ** **
two songs for Wolf
gleaned from years
engaged with nature, hunts
haunt humans, sustain the wolf pack
tranquil air, howls resound
songs of joy, love, each note projects