I was out by the pool when I saw her first, a deer running along the crest of the hill on the other side of the stream. She was followed by a smaller figure I took to be a fawn. But, very shortly, the doe came crashing down to the stream and crossed to my side of the water. She was impaired in some fashion, she couldn't stand straight, she seemed weak and wobbly on her legs. She was just below me, where I stood on the pool deck, separated from her by a six-foot high stone wall. She was not twenty feet away, and on the other bank, watching her and dodging back and forth, was a real live scruffy-looking long-legged grey coyote. It was like watching TV. I was in civilization up on my safe pool deck, they were in another, dangerous, realm. Except it was real, it was right there. The deer ducked and parried for a moment or two, then broke upstream with the coyote in hot pursuit. I followed them along the bank until they were out of sight.
Later, when I went out to throw away the trash, a flock of buzzards lifted off from the trees and from the rocks along the curve in the stream bed, where I discovered the body of the deer lying, ribcage exposed, along the bank. Our friend who came to haul her away said that coyotes are all over the Eastern US now, even in the cities. Chicago, he said, has a big problem. Fortunately, around here, he added, people still shoot them, so they're wary of humans. But they will eat small animals -- so we worry about Phoebe, who was hiding, and Amos, who was curious about the smells, but leary. He did not bark.
Then, this evening, a buzzard was sitting, black and big, big as life (big as death), on the stone wall that supposedly marks the boundary between them and us. A challenge, a reminder, a warning, a hint.
Plus, for two nights running, the deck chair has been moved. Who has been sitting there? What's the idea?