Little Girl followed a ways behind Coyote, following his trail of trodden grass and scattered seeds. The trail led her on a wander, turning this way and that, criss crossing other trails and roads, without time or destination, until the trail ended at a border of tall pine trees. Little Girl cautiously approached, not sure which way Grandfather Coyote had gone. She entered the woods.
Tall pitch pines were scattered naturally. Little scrub oaks and blackjack oaks between, trying to reach up and touch the knees of the pines. Here and there were pretty leaves of red maples fluttering in the breeze, with blueberry bushes and tiny wintergreen plants covering the ground. ‘This is beautiful!’ she thought.
As she continued along a vague trail, she heard voices. The further she went the louder the voices sounded until she saw three young boys chattering away. The boys looked at her, smiling, and asked, “Are you following the coyote?”
“Yes,” she answered, looking from one boy to the other, “How did you know?”
They laughed. “You’re on the path of the coyote!” they answered, ” We’re following him too!” The boys were flooded with excitement. Little Girl felt safe and happy and her excitement flowed with theirs. She liked them immediately. One of the boys, Little Seal, was used to adventure and knew about being in the woods. Another boy, Little Trader, had traveled the world. The third, Good With Numbers, was following Grandfather Coyote because he, like Little Girl, was looking for something, but didn’t know what.
Little Girl walked with them, swapping rumors about Grandfather Coyote, feeling grateful for companionship.
Eventually they came to a large opening in the pines where they saw a whole pack of coyotes. There were other children there too, cautiously entering the place and looking for Grandfather Coyote, but none of the children saw him. The day was growing old, and before dark the children each wandered into the nearby woods to set up tents.
Little girl walked down various trails looking for an empty space. She found a vacant patch of ground quite a ways from the coyote clearing, set up the tent she brought, and returned to the main camp where the evening fire had been lit. Greetings and introductions lasted into the night as all the children met the young coyotes. By full dark a storm had set in and fat raindrops began to fall. The wind picked up and Little Girl left the warm fire to go to bed.
The trail to her tent was dark. The little light she carried cast jumping shadows through the wet blueberry bushes that pressed against her and snatched at her arms and legs, catching her coat and pants as she pushed through. The wind began to howl and in the growing darkness she could make out the tall pines swaying and menacing, as if in warning. Little Girl felt small and alone as she hurried along, trying to be brave. As she searched the trail, Little Girl worried she would not find her tent in the darkness. She searched each little side trail. Shadows continued to jump in jerky, spooky movements as her light played off the branches along the trail. The twigs of the bushes continued to grab at her. Panic rose in her heart.
Finally, she released a long breath. There was her tent. Little Girl climbed in, crawled into her sleeping bag, and pulled the covers over her head, but that didn’t stop her from hearing the rain pound on her leaking roof. That sleepless night was one of tossing, and listening. ‘Are there coyotes running around my tent, playing tricks on me?’ she wondered, ‘Or does the rain sound like running feet?’ Little Girl peeked out into the darkness, over and over, to make sure she was alone. Even so, the sounds she heard fooled her still and she could have sworn coyotes were running around and around her tent all night long.
To be continued . . .