As the mercury approaches zero all movement stops. Where starlings had squabbled over the leavings of the big corn threshers, now the very air squats on furrows. Maybe tomorrow the wind won’t fang the mouse, who just wants to glean the corners of the field. He peeps, then pulls back. White is the color of waiting.
Except for that coyote. I look twice to be sure; they’re rarely spotted from the road in Ohio. Though there’s an open acre between us, I don’t need to be closer to see that he is no dog. Coyotes move with the visible intentionality of wild things, whose hunts must succeed or they die. Dogs meander, even when they’re curious, because they don’t have be serious as close as they are to the table scraps that appear on suburban porches.
The coyote trots, straight. His sharp nose and his sharp tail pull his frame into a long straight line, and he doesn’t glance to the side. I think of one of my pencils sharpened on both ends and drawn along a ruler.
But he’s not tracking a rabbit or mole. He seems to stare at an internal map. It’s as if he’s just graphed this wide corn field into a mental grid and he’s focused on working it square by square.
I have to pull my own eyes back to the actual road. At zero degrees even the asphalt crouches, refusing to grab my tires.