Near dusk last night, the last of the birds, the first of the bats, and a coyote starts her bark. It's sharp, it carries, and a second coyote appears. He stands a few feet away, ears up, snout up, reads the canyon breeze. She keeps barking.
A minute in and you catch her rhythm, a triplet, loud soft soft, high low low, over and over and another coyote comes. He's a stranger, or maybe new because neither the barking coyote nor her watchful companion acknowledge him.
Darker and still she's calling. The stranger gets too close, gets reprimanded. Stars now, and all three are looking, scenting and listening when suddenly, seven coyotes. They're swarming, weaving and tumbling, circling, an ornate greeting of yips and snarls, bits of play and bursts of violence.
They're the color of the hills and if you move your gaze for an instant in this last light, you lose them. The barking ends, the greeting ends and they're on the move, up the hill, across the ridge by ones and twos, silhouetted, then gone.