Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vertigo and Wildness

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I'm kind of better. I'm kind of not better, too and I'm living in fear that betterness is just an illusion as it proved to be last time and at any minute I could keel over again. Meanwhile, I have a splitting headache that won't go away; I have to blow my nose entirely too often and I'm tired. The newspaper reports that local schools have tons of kids out and yadda yadda: February. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the comments thread on that story managed not to blame the Democrats, which I was expecting, since the "people" who comment in the Citizen-Times forums usually manage to blame pretty much everything that they don't like - which is to say everything; they don't like much - on the Democrats. They use more unkind terms than Democrat, too, as you can probably imagine and all in all a visit to the comments page generally makes me want to either jump off the planet or boil myself in bleach but then I take solace in remembering that those are not real people commenting. No, those forums provide the preferred online community for that subterranean race of troglodytic reptile people who spend their time jumping over lava rivers, fighting off pterodactyls and performing human sacrifice in bad movies. Once that became clear I found I could read their completely batshit insane comments calmly and anthropologically, which is better than the boiling bleach option and besides, obviously this is the only logical explanation for the cesspits that are the Topix forums.

I am trying to keep illness at bay by, gasp, being healthy. Thus I have managed to walk the dogs twice this week already which is a new pathetic record. This morning I went down to the old park, the French Broad River Park but just as I wait, not me, someone I don't know who is not me, heh - was about to illegally slip the dogs off their leashes so they could get a good run in, they went nuts, barking and generally freaking out. I looked in the direction in which they were barking and saw animals. There were two of them, halfway across the park and you could tell simply from their body language that they were not domesticated, oh no, far from it. Tiny, weirdly shaped deer? I thought wildly, feral dogs? Then I thought, wait, shit, I think those are coyotes! Then I edged up a little closer and one of them crossed the park and I think, I am not positive, but I am close to sure, that they were foxes or, and this is weird, one of them was definitely a fox but the other may have been a dog? No, okay, that's impossible. Looking at the blurry pictures - at the bottom of the post - I'm back at the coyote hypothesis.

Here's why I don't think they were dogs. I grant you that feral dogs or even perfectly non feral family dogs who have taken themselves for a fun jaunt are the most likely scenario at the heavily used river park in Asheville (we are not talking wilderness here, let's face it) but I really don't think these were dogs. They had that impression of wild animal that's hard to define but the minute I glimpsed them I thought wild animal, completely wild animal, unfamiliar wild animal. I put faith in that kind of instinctive reaction; I think our primitive brains add up clues more quickly than our reason.

And then feral dogs in this day and age almost always look more like pit bulls than anything else. Every feral or loose dog I've seen around here - and I've seen my fair share - has had either that tell tale pit look or a whole lot of hound. Even here in WNC where there's a strong ancestral collie strain, the pit bull genes have been hard at work. These animals did not look like pits nor did they look like collies: I have a collie. He does not have a profile or a tail like that.

Whatever species they were, Yoda says: frightened by us they were not. One ran back across the park and the other stood there and looked calmly at us for a while and I thought, you know what? I am going to go in completely the other direction today and leave the dogs on their leashes for a while. And so I did and when I came back they were gone.

It was a nice brush with mystery though and wildness and even a little fear; you can't help but think about rabies in those situations - well, I can't but then I'm neurotic, okay - and how much vets cost and so on. At the same time as the fear, though, there is something in this overly analytical overly populated semi urban 21st century existence of mine that responds with real awe to this kind of brush with wildness, this kind of quick glimpse into the hidden world that lives right up next to the one we see every day. It's a sort of vertigo, realizing that the surface we see is just part of the story and far, far from all. There are wild things, Horatio, right outside your window and we will never know where they came from or where they go.

Oh and yes, I know, these pictures are hopeless. That could be a yeti there or Bigfoot or a tyrannosaurus rex - they are the quintessential UFO photos, these photos and I apologize, but it was early and dark and the animals were far away and, okay, a National Geographic wildlife photographer I am not.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Those are coyotes. I've seen them in the park, crossing Amboy near the gas station, and on the Biltmore Estate. They look like malnourished german shepards...
Eric W.

Beth said...

Yeah, reading what the trolls spew on the Topix forums sends me into utter despair,too, but if you read the forums at the Mountain Xpress on the breastfeeding incident, it's clear that the conservative contingent hasn't cornered the market on nastiness.

mygothlaundry said...

Coyotes! In Asheville! So weird. Yes, they did look kind of like small malnourished German shepherds but with huge luxuriant bushy tails. I tell you what, though, that seals it - my cat is never going outside again. I live right up the road from that park and we all know what coyotes like to eat.

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