I saw right away that it was a wolf. People will want to tell me that it was a coyote but I’ve seen coyotes and I’ve seen wolves and this was a wolf.
Tall, walking fast but purposefully, head up, looking straight ahead, not scrounging for scraps and road kill, this was a wolf walking right along the shoulder of U.S. 2, going west while we were headed east.
“That was a wolf. Did you see it?”
We kept driving.
“We need to turn around. That was a wolf.”
We pulled over, made a U-turn, saw the wolf continuing his saunter and made another U-turn just in time for him to pass us, trot about 20 feet and lay down in the grass of the shoulder, wriggling and scratching his back like a dog in front of the fireplace.
I put down my window and fiddled with the camera on my phone. I wanted the flash on but realized the flash was only good for a few feet, not for a creature 20 feet away. But I clicked anyway, a couple of times until I realized that the picture would be useless and what I should do is look at the wolf, really look at the wolf and see the wolf.
So I put my phone down and looked. When I did, he stood up from his roll in the grass and looked at me. Grey, lean, clear-eyed, the wolf considered me sitting in the car on the shoulder of the road long enough for me to feel fear and to think that I should appreciate the protection of our car and leave the wolf to his stroll along the shoulder of U.S.2. Who was I to interfere, to interrupt, to interject, to intrude?
Later, I looked at the pictures I took. All were of complete darkness, no hint of a wolf. Just blackness, just like it was there on the side of the road where the wolf was. Totally dark. No sign of the wolf.