Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Siren Song of the Coyote

For some time now, we’ve noticed that when emergency vehicle sirens are heard in the Capistrano Valley, within moments packs of coyotes begin yipping as if answering the call.

But today, Alison pointed out, for the first time, we first heard coyotes and then moments later emergency vehicle sirens echoed in reply!

How ‘bout that!

I once directed a workshop production of Sam Shepard’s True West many years ago. I later produced the piece at the Laguna Playhouse featuring artistic director Andy Barnicle as Austin, who hangs out at his mom’s vacant SoCal home (she’s on holiday) where he’s trying to hammer out a screenplay. The unexpected arrival of brother Lee, a cocky and violent drifter, provokes one of the sharpest, funniest and scariest dramas this great American playwright ever wrote.

I bring it up because I recall there being some sort of author’s note in the script alerting producers and directors that western coyotes don’t actually howl as they’ve been stereotyped to do. Instead, they are more like dogs with high-pitched yapping.

I thought nothing much of that until I arrived in San Juan Capistrano where we live adjacent to open spaces and hear the siren song of the coyotes in the hills above and the valley below us, day and night.

It’s awe-inspiring in its way to hear them from our home daily, but it’s also hilarious when the sounds of civilization can be so close to the natural sound of the coyotes that they feel compelled to respond.

Until next time…


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