Join us Monday night as we review field notes from Creatures of the Summer Dawn, our long summer sesshin.

Wuzu said, “It’s like a coyote that passes through a latticed window.
It’s head, body and four legs all pass through.
Why can’t its bushy tail pass through as well?”

—The Gateless Barrier, Case 38

Now, deep in sesshin, we hear the rising and falling howl of coyote. The original subject of Wuzu’s question, of course, is a water buffalo. But coyotes have meandering through my life in recent months. Coyote as trickster, a thief who stands at the gate of change. A change master. A thief of self. A koan. Why can’t it get its tail through the lattice window?

Two weeks ago, my partner and I were out walking our dog on a gravel road not far from our house in rural Sonoma County. To the east of the road are vineyards and beyond them, the Mayacama mountains. To the west is a tall fence hung with horse-wire, and more vineyards.

The sun had set and a half-moon was rising, gently illuminating our way. We took our dog, Mocha, a small German Shepard, off leash as we walked the gravel road. Suddenly, she ducked under the horse-wire fence and sprinted into the vineyard. Within seconds, out of sight from about twenty-five yards away, a large pack of coyotes lit up, howling, yipping, and yapping. She had been lured into a hunting pack.

I ran back down the road, through a gate, and into the vineyard, and could hear the coyotes, still unseen. I felt I was running full speed into the unknown.

As I entered the vines, my wife yelled that Mocha had returned. I stopped, turned around, and walked through the gate and back up the road to meet them. A lone coyote trailed me, just out of sight, perhaps thirty feet away, howling and yapping. The trickster taunting me, haunting me.