One night Coyote and some of his friends were sitting by the fire when Possum asked, “Coyote, what are the boundaries of Wilderness?”
Coyote answered, “The boundaries of Wilderness? Why, Possum, to the North it is bounded by the Aurora Borealis; to the East by the rising sun. The Southern boundary of Wilderness is the procession of the equinoxes, and on the West, the Day of Judgment.”
Another time Marten asked the same question. Coyote said, “Close your eyes and imagine you are high on a mountain slope. You are looking across a great valley ringed with tall mountains capped with snow. On the sides of the mountains are forests with leaves in infinite shades of green and gold; there are streams tumbling and singing waterfalls spraying a cooling mist. Above, in a deep blue sky, Eagles and Hawks are soaring. The land in the valley is rich and green, with meadows and forest of Oak and Ash and Rowan and every kind of tree. Salmon are leaping from the rivers that wind through, and colorful splashes of wildflowers are seen everywhere… are you getting the picture?”
“Yes,” Marten said excitedly. “I can see it! How wonderful! Is that Wilderness, Coyote?”
“When you imagine the place I described, what else can you imagine?”
Marten said, “I see big beautiful hills in the valley with rich earth, full of small creatures. There are families of my friends playing, and all the small birds everywhere…and orchards of trees with delicious fruits… apples and pears and more!”
“Where did those images come from, Marten?” asked Coyote.
“My imagination,” said Marten.
“Do you think anyone else would imagine those images in exactly the same way you do?” Coyote asked.
“No,” said Marten. “Everyone would have a different way of seeing the picture.”
“And where does your unique imagination come from?” asked Coyote.
“I don’t know,” said Marten.
“That’s where Wilderness is,” said Coyote.
River Otter’s Commentary on the Boundaries of Wilderness
Since all Coyote does here is waste his words with useless yakking, it falls to me to explain. To the North, Wilderness is bounded by the Aurora Borealis; to the East by the rising sun. The Southern boundary of Wilderness is the procession of the equinoxes, and on the West, the Day of Judgment. The threshold is exactly here. Now you know; enter.
Story from "Coyote Stories for Connection to Nature and Spirit." This story is inspired by a tale found in: Botkin, B.A. and Carl Sandburg: A Treasury of American Folklore: Stories, Ballads and Traditions of the People, Bonanza 1993. Coyote’s description is taken from a frontiersman’s characterizations of the boundaries of the new frontier.
Author: M. Amos Clifford
Illustrator: Jamie Lyn Davis
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