The sky was a color so crisp that any sky-blue pencil crayon in a new pack would have to contend with the vibrancy. Wispy white clouds stroked the sky leaving cotton like smears buffing some spots and leaving others bare to blue. And as far as prairie horizons go this combination of white textured blue stretched far, far into the space above us.
The sun, deceptively bright, didn’t warm anything but our hopes for spring. The air, -18 Celsius, cut a million tiny razors on our rosy cheeks—the only part of our skin that was exposed on this walk.
Soft snow covered hills off the park path rolled around us, sparkling twinkles of pretend jewels and shadows cast sharp deep blue—except for the path. It was crinkled with footsteps of winter boots and fat tires. Too many to separate. Just a texture that revealed we were here. We were all here.
We stayed on the path along the west embankment of the creek that meandered north. The flat narrow ice field between the shore on either side spread uninterrupted with more snow. In a few months this will melt into flowing water, a summer home for the birds, beavers, muskrats. But right now it’s very, very still.
Leafless bushes poked up through the snow and between these sticks appeared yellow grasses, having kept their upright salute through every season and hatching a warm gold hue on the winter tones.
Keeping our usual journey we walked to the islands and tried to stay on the paths although some were snow drifted creating a small scramble. Worth it still. We reached the second loop and headed south again.
As we came around a bend between two bridges, I noticed what I thought was a dog at first glance. However, I quickly identified that the dog was not a dog but a coyote—the dog’s wild cousin. This coyote was fluffy, large and healthy looking. His tail was an animal all its own. This fella was busy. He was busy digging, digging, digging. I reached my hand out to touch my friend. “Look, a coyote.” I said it quietly as if I didn’t want the animal to hear me.
She hushed “Are we in danger?” I smiled. “No.” He was too busy with his coyote life to bother with us. He turned over the snow in the same spot on the shore making a hole. Was he looking for a treasure or burying a treasure? We heard a loud caw. A raven swooped at him screaming. He stopped digging and jumped at the black bird who appeared almost cutout against the white and blue. Coyote jumped so high. I was impressed. He’d land and the bird would swoop. He’d dig and jump, tossing himself in the air and the raven would swirl and fly. This happened for quite some time. It seemed the raven wanted what was in that hole too.
We were finally directly across from Dances with Raven. I named him. Yes. I’m proud of his new name. But, he and raven noticed us too and stopped their dance. He sat like “a good boy” on a snow drift near his hole but not too near. It was like he knew to make space so we’d leave his treasure alone, cognizant of our presence and his actions. Interestingly enough, as if he sent a memo, raven perched on the park bench near by waiting too. Incredible. They just knew to lay low—sort of. We watched for a bit but felt that we were imposing so we carried on with the awe of what we had just witnessed. Incredible. Truly. In the middle of the city. As we approached the bridge I looked over my shoulder one last time to see Coyote in the air snapping as Raven cawed and swooped. Gorgeous. Grateful.
There were no photos
I take my camera with me on a lot of journeys but this particular day I decided not to.
And this is why I love words. I can tell you about it and you can imagine it, picture it. If I had simply posted a single picture you wouldn’t get any of the other details but you’d get an unarguable image of what the location and the moment looked like. Photos are great. Words are also great.
Indigenous people of this region believe that animals are sent by Great Spirit to teach us, show us, warn us, comfort us. They are a gift. If they present themselves to you there is definitely a lesson. I felt like this day I was being presented with a learning of some kind. In my early 20’s a Metis woman showed me the practice of Medicine Cards and the symbols of animals as believed by the Indigenous people. I have, ever since been paying attention, listening and looking at my environment and nature around me. I have learned a lot about signs brought to me by the Creator. In the book Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams and David Carson talked about Coyote and his presences and the message of Raven.
If you can’t laugh at yourself and your crazy antics, you have lost the game. Coyote always comes calling when things get too serious. The medicine is in laughter and joking so that new view points may be assumed. If you have Coyote medicine, you may use it to make stuffy old fogies lighten up, to add cheer to a party, or to break a “death grip conversation” with ease. Look at the positive side of sabotaging nosey questions about your personal life. Have fun telling some gossiper that you just returned from St. Tropez in your new Lear Jet!
If you have chosen Raven, magic is in the air. Do not try to “figure it out” you cannot. It is the power of the unknown at work, and something special is about to happen. The deeper mystery, however is how you will respond to the sparkling synchronicity of this alchemical moment. Will you recognize it and use it to further enhance your growth? Can you accept it as a gift from the Great Spirit? Or will you limit the power of the Great Mystery by explain it away? It may be time to call Raven as a courier to carry an invention, some healing energy, a thought, or a message. Raven is the patron of smoke signals or spirit messages represented by smoke. So if you want to send a message to the Blue Road of spirit, in order to contact the Ancients, call Raven. Who knows the Ancients may be calling you. Remember, this magic moment came from the voice of darkness, and the challenge is to bring it to light. In doing so you will have honored the magician within.
These are just small parts of what these two creatures mean according to the teachings but I must say that any time I have come in contact with nature I always feel it is a gift. And this moment, in the city on a walk it means a lot with or without my camera.