Friday, February 24, 2012

Coyotes and kindness


And just like that, the honeymoon is over.

No, it is not that quite that dramatic, but still, thud, clunk, aack, I'm disappointed and frustrated.

I grew up spending every summer in the foothills of a Los Angeles suburb.  Coyotes were vaguely referred to, but were generally considered a skittish lot, who only grabbed an outdoor cat once in awhile, and were rarely, if ever, seen roaming the streets.

The coyotes in our new town are apparently neither skittish or unseen.

A few months ago my neighbor was with her two small dogs at the end of our driveway, and there was a coyote.  It did go away when she yelled at it.

Another incident was a coyote trying to grab a small dog and the coyote bit a child on the backside.

I was told they prey on sick dogs, one coyote even sitting outside a house waiting for the dog to come out.

After ten days in our "Big House in the Little Woods," as Aidan calls it affectionately, I've grown to love living surrounded by woods.  Ashley and I saw a large group of turkeys wander by.  I had envisioned deer, racoons, chipmunks.

I had never for a moment thought about carniverous predators.

I'm not naive, I camp, spent the last two summers in Shenandoah hearing of bear sightings daily, saw a bear cub scamper across a road, hiked by a tree with freshly made bear claw marks tearing it open.

Somehow, I had not yet thought of any un-cute animal here in our yard.

My very nice neighbors told me they actually deliberated on whether to tell we newcomers about the coyotes.  I thanked them for their sensitivity, but appreciated their candor, and felt it extremely necessary that I know this information.

This changes a lot.

Although my two large dogs are not technically sick, they are elderly and beginning to have joint soreness and stiffness, and move slower.  We will now no longer allow them to spend time in our yard alone on a lead tied to the house, as we had been doing.  They would not be able to get away from a coyote.

We will not allow the kids to play in the yard unsupervised.

Nature.  It ain't all cartoon bunnies.

And now, from the serious to the sublime!

Craig jokes that we've moved to Mayberry!

I tease him that he is going to go bankrupt paying all of the town residents to be so friendly, a la the Chevy Chase movie Funny Farm!

Our moving van hadn't but pulled away that our neighbor Ed walked up our driveway, introduced himself to us, and gave us his phone number.  By the end of the conversation it was all I could do to stop myself from throwing my arms around him and hugging him!  He and his wife Anne have lived down the street since the '60s and they knew the former owners very well.  I loved that his name was my grandpa's name, and my son's middle name, his wife's name is my middle name, including the -e on the end. 

We are living far away from everything we know.  Family lives many states away.  We barely know anyone in this entire state.  We have zero persons to list as local emergency contacts on our childrens' emergency contact forms at school.  Craig works an hour from our house.  I have not yet made the friendships and rapport that stay-at-home moms who-also-have-no-family-in-the-area require to keep their sanity, knowing there are people to turn to if something comes up.

So when, on my 5th morning in our new town, when my children were emotional and at their 3rd day at their new school, I was at Target, my cell phone rang, my neighbor Ed letting me know today was rubbish day, and that he had marked a map of our town to give to me, with all the stores and important locations in our area, it really touched me.

I am so grateful for our friends and neighbors in our previous town, for the peace of mind it provided me, to know they were the emergency contacts on my childrens' school forms, to know they could help me get in when I locked myself out (who, me?!), to be assured they could pick up my kids from school when I was running late, to be comforted when they would show up at my door with homemade soup when I was sick in bed and my husband was out of town on business.

So when, on our 10th day in our new neigborhood, our neighbors showed up at our door with a basket of homemade chocolate chip cookies, welcoming us to the neighborhood..... it made me feel like oh, okay, I can survive this change, and it looks like I will hopefully yes, make good friends and neighbors here like I did in our previous town.

I get such a good vibe in this house.  And that vibe only continued when the previous owner, now retired in Florida at age 87, wanted to call us and talk with us.  My girlfriend said to me "Who does that?!  That never happens!! That is amazing!"  I look forward to speaking with her, we have exchanged voicemail messages so far.  I think the Hungarian background of she and her husband reminds me of the heritage of my late Grampa Eddie.  And with that, I cry.  Did you know that moving away from all you know, to somewhere you don't know, with no family, makes you cry?  Often?

Everyone so far here has been so friendly, at our new school, even strangers at the grocery store.  The day before the kids started at their new school, I arrived at the school to pick up forms, and there was the principal, in a suit, holding a pink rose, happily loudly greeting all the students with Happy Valentine's Day and a big smile, standing in front of a large colorful mural painted on the wall.  I said to myself this is gonna be a good new school.  As I write this right now, I start to cry.  Happy, grateful tears.

If you are reading this thinking "Of course you will make new friends!  Of course the new school will be fine!" then I am guessing you, yourself, have never moved
to a new state
where you know no one
and have no family
with two young children.

Because if you had, you would know that it is, quite simply, like moving to Mars.


  1. Liz! I cried, and laughed with you. We miss you, and I'm sorry that our friendship was just taking off as you had to leave. I still look for you at pick-up. I'm glad you LOVE your new home. The kids will fine in no time, but yes, it will take time for you to settle in. Miss you girl!!

  2. Hang in there, my friend. You're right. I can only imagine what it might be like. Even when we move back to Ann Arbor, where we went to school, within an hour's drive of family, etc., it was H.A.R.D. We missed everything about Chicago and our lives there. It just takes time, lots of time. I pray that having your family back together and that gorgeous wooded view out your windows, serve to inspire and comfort you. Hugs!!

  3. Hi Liz,

    Really... don't worry that much about the coyetes... I never saw one the entire time I lived in Massachusetts or visited back there over the last 30 years. My sister-in-law lives around the corner from you and has never worried about her kids being outside. Dan and I are going to my Mom's this weekend. This will be a quick visit.. up Saturday and back Sunday. But, we might go to church. If you want to visit the local church, let me know and you'll have a familiar face to see you there!!

    It actually breaks my heart a little each time you speak about the nice things about Marlborough, as it's been a long time since I lived there. And, I truely miss it so much. While I have wonderful friends here in NJ. New Jersey has never become home to me the way that Massachusetts was. And the people there are so warm and friendly.

    I am not worried for you, because I know they will embrace you and your family. It just takes a little time for them to know you are there.

  4. Liz,

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful blog. I am really enjoying reading about it and can relate to so much. I've been thinking about starting my own just as a diary to be able to read when these kids are grown up. Enjoy your new adventure!