My 13-year-old daughter and I belong to a Mother Daughter book club. This past Friday, we drove out to Roxborough, along with two other mother/daughter pairs to the new home of one of our members for our bimonthly meeting. (Roxborough is a growing residential area in Douglas County, but is still more remote and rural than Highlands Ranch.)
As we wound through the homes nestled on the scenic hillsides, we spotted mule deer grazing along the roadside and commented on how nice it must be to live so close to wildlife and in such a lovely setting.
When we arrived, I parked above my friend’s house on a gravel road and we walked down her sloped driveway so I wouldn’t have trouble backing out when it came time to leave.
Before dusk, our daughters and my friend’s other children were playing outside. From time to time, we could hear their delighted shrieks as they chased after small groups of mule deer who happened into the yard. As I watched the skittish creatures bound away across the grass, I asked my friend if they had had any encounters with coyotes. (Although I live in suburbia, there have been ongoing problems in my own neighborhood with coyotes snatching small pets and displaying aggression, particularly towards children.) She replied that they had a fox den nearby, but that so far, they had not had any encounters with coyotes, mountain lions, or bears. Still, I was a bit nervous as I watched her cat and two-year-old wander in and out of the house unattended.
When it came time to leave later that night, my friend apologized that her porch light was out. Using the remote control to my van, I opened the side doors so we would at least have the interior lights to guide us. We said our goodbyes and my friend shut the front door. It was quite dark, but the walk was short. The girls and one of the moms scrambled up the hillside while me and the other mom decided to take the driveway. I was just telling her how jumpy I felt, when I looked over to my right and spied less than ten feet away a dark hunched shape crouching on the road.
“It’s a coyote! Run!” I screamed.
My normally very calm and collected friend screamed too and we both took off running toward the car.
In the course of my sprinting, I stepped right out of both of my sandals but kept on running in my bare feet until I reached the car.
“Shut the doors!” I yelled as I quickly switched on the headlights.
There, just outside the yellow beam I could see the unmistakable form of a fox standing in the road and my two deserted sandals. Of course, we all started laughing with relief. My friend that had run with me to the car offered to retrieve my shoes. Jokingly, I said, “It’s not worth it–they were only $15! Don’t do it!” But keeping her eye on the fox, she bravely got out of the car and picked them up for me. As we drove away, a baby fox with a perplexed look in its eye peeked out of its den. He was probably wondering what all the ruckus was about.
Since that night, we have all had a good belly laugh at my expense. But that’s okay. I know I’m lily-livered (or maybe I was just demonstrating what I learned about the fight-or-flight response in my Psychology class this semester!) At any rate, I’m sure glad I didn’t step on the hem of my elastic-waisted broomstick skirt as I was running away or it would have ended up in the road, too.
Then everyone would have really had a memorable encounter with nature. Yikes!