Taking Sides

when i worked the very early shift at a bookstore here in los angeles, i came face-to-face with a coyote. i walked to the shop every morning at five. it took half an hour. i was surrounded by apartments and the chill of the morning. it was always dark. i usually love that time of day but, on these occasions, i pitied myself for waking up so early. i was in that foul mood when the coyote startled me. he blocked the sidewalk. his ears were focused on me like a second set of eyes. it was exhilarating! i was frightened of course but i was suddenly alive. suddenly in the moment.

Cricket Magazine commissioned these illustrations for a story about a boy who encounters a wolf in the woods near his house. i offered to paint every moment of the encounter, like a comic strip. that idea was nixed. so, i got to choose between the instant that our hero sees the animal and the moment before he does. this is the one that felt real. the moment we live more often than not... surrounded by beauty and danger but lost in the past or the future.

© 2007 rama hughes