Barefoot and empty handed, in the frosty pre-dawn hours of late March, separated only by tangled wisps of breath and steam from a nearby pond, I stared down a wolf. Eye to steely eye. Neither of us advancing nor retreating. Neither of us moving, except inwardly in resolve. He, ash grey, thin and fractured from winter’s threshing, far past hunger, eternally empty, steadfast. Me, a solitary barrier to his single, strongest earthly longing; the mother to his first – in all memory – warm meal.
My pups, not yet one, tumbled over each other in the distance, tracking rambling scents of voles from crystallized blades of grass. Then suddenly sensing a change, they looked up together at us: their mother and their wolf. And then my fear. My little girls charged toward us, playful, adventurous, innocent, full of discovery, fragile moths to flame. Gangly still from hind quarters that their forelegs hadn’t yet grown into. They were at once awkwardly adorable to me as they bounded in our direction, and sumptuously tempting to my mortal enemy. There is nothing I will not do to protect them.
I witnessed all that happened next from somewhere else.
Pups are not like children. They do not have an innate capacity for human language. They do not inherently know ‘stop’ means stop, and ‘stay’ means do not advance toward Mother. Perhaps like children; their mother is their safety – their perpetual, enduring security. But, not today. Not in the location I was in that moment: me and their death.
The one thing that pups have that we humans largely have lost is another language. As my girls closed the gap between us, moments collapsed, space folded over on itself, and I became one with what must be done. No conscious decision making, no planning defenses, no strategizing attacks. There was only one way. Only one way out for my pups, and that was with and through me. And in that instant, their predator became my prey and I became the wolf’s Wolf.
A single sharp sound out to my pups. A singular focus splitting though their wolf – his heart, his spirit – cleaving hair from flesh and sinew from bone. I brought but one purpose, one end to his pursuit. It was this energy that changed the course. My pups broke out of their exuberant dash and locked in behind me. Though within his space, they were within my presence and so outside of his reach. He did not attack. He did not move. Yet he still did not break his gaze from mine. He hunted for weakness.
I took one step back with my pups. The wolf stood still. I took another and he did not advance. I took a third and then a fourth. He kept his lock on me and me on him, but he did not pursue. A fifth, a sixth. Our wolf stayed still. We continued moving together, my pups and I, traveling nearly the length of a football field until we came upon the porch entrance to our safety. The wolf and I stanchly fastened on each other until that instant when I turned and opened the door pushing my pups indoors. And upon looking back at him before stepping in myself, I caught only the fading tangled wisps of where his breath had been.
What does all this mean for us?
There is a language that speaks louder and more clearly than words. It enters the space before your first breath. It leaves well after your last. It conveys more than any motion or act. It is the universal language of energy. You must make it yours.************* Author’s note: This story was originally written by me in 2009. I’m pleased to report that my girls are now about 3 years old and could probably out run that wolf. But these are the things a Mother never wants to know for sure.