Padre Coyote Solves Poverty Problem
Father Coyote Stores
By Esteban Coyotl, (Stephen Bartlett)
Story 1: The Bright Idea came to Coyote during Siesta
Father Coyote, before he became a Father, was a ragged young animal, living from meal to meal, from mouse to road runner to lizard to snake, to the occasional rabbit. Coyote was on the thin side, slightly mangy, often thirsty and hungry, and life seemed like one long struggle for survival. The area around Tucson, Arizona was hot and dry; it was the desert Coyote was born to.
One afternoon as Coyote took his siesta lying in the shade of a mesquite bush, he awoke in a dreamlike state. Looking out through the spiny branches of the bush, Coyote saw a human being working with a shovel beside a narrow strip of canal full of water. Coyote had used this canal to drink from and his siesta location was chosen to be near to that source of fresh water. After a while the man excavated a section of the wall of the canal and water spread out over a field that looked like it had been tilled up with hoes recently. The man stopped to rest and wipe away sweat as the water spread out over the field. After a while, the man got to digging again and closed up the gap in the wall of the canal. After looking over the field with evident satisfaction, and placing some sticks in the ground on the edges of the field, the human went away, taking his sombrero and a hoe with him.
Coyote was so curious that he decided to hang out in the area and find out what was next.
What was next took about four days to appear, before Coyote got too hungry to linger much longer. The field began to turn green and when coyote got close he saw little leaves bursting up from the soil, and recognized them at once: bean seedlings!!
Coyote decided he had to think about this for a few more days and plan his next steps and that night he was lucky enough to catch a big mouse to eat, near the irrigation ditch. With his stomach full, coyote began to plot his next steps. The more he thought and plotted, the more he became convinced that his luck in life was about to change for the better. That night he fell asleep humming the tune to: Happy Days Are here Again.
Coyote got his equipment together… the fanny belt he had found along a state highway, the old plastic bus pass, the old Visa credit card, some old dollar bills and coins he had found roadside during several years, a vest and pair of shorts, a kerchief. He began practicing standing on his hind legs, starting with a few seconds, then a minute, then up to 10 minutes. He practiced walking on his hind legs until he could shuffle along effectively. While he was doing this, the bean field became a lush green carpet on the field, and the man returned twice to let water cover the field once more. Coyote began scratching the surface of the soil on the near side of the irrigation canal, ripping up weeds and small thorny bushes, and pushing stones into small piles.
One fine day Coyote put his vest, shorts and kerchief on, and snapped on his fanny belt with his money and cards stored away inside, and jogged down to the nearby state road that headed 15 miles into Tucson. He waited at the bus stop along there, and he was the only passenger waiting there. When the bus approached, he quickly got up and balanced himself on his hind legs, and held out one paw to signal the bus to stop, which it did. Coyote stepped up onto the bus and the driver took a good long look at him, and said:
“Been waiting long?” to which Coyote replied, “No. Do you accept credit cards?”
The bus driver had seen all kinds of passengers climb those two steps, and he prided himself on his wide experience and his tolerance of differences. This character was pushing the limit, he was so furry, but he spoke good English.
“Nope. Cash or a bus pass.”
Coyote flashed the bus pass in one paw. The driver took it for a closer look.
“Well, look at that. Sorry, that pass expired some…five years ago.”
“Then cash it is.” Said Coyote and fed quarters into the machine until he made his fare.
The door to the bus closed with a hydraulic hiss and Coyote shuffled on his hind legs to a seat and sat down. The bus picked up speed, headed toward the cluster of buildings etched against the horizon.
“No problema” Coyote said under his breath, emphasizing his multilingual abilities to himself. You see, for coyotes, known in the animal world for understanding many languages, all human languages fell under one category, the language of the human species. Spanish or English did not make much difference to Coyote, since they were considered close variants on the generic human tongue.
When the bus got into traffic, Coyote recognized some landmarks from visits he had made to the marginal barrios of Tucson where other coyotes lived. He pulled the line with his paw, and the Next Stop light went on. He almost tripped climbing down the stairs and then once on the ground fell forward on all fours, which astonished the bus driver as he glanced one more time at Coyote as he accelerated away from the curb.
Coyote walked a few blocks back up on his hind legs and walked into West Feed and Seed company. Concentrating on the task at hand, and at maintaining his balance, Coyote collected seed packets from the shelves, and then rang them up at the cash register. The cashier, distracted by the busy flow of customers, rang them up without giving Coyote a close look: “Bibb lettuce, cos lettuce, radishes, carrots, turnips, watercress, kale, collards, green beans, water melons, muskmelons, chili peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, Swiss Chard, basil.. Is that all? Oh, perdon? Hablas ingles?” She asked at the rather hairy customer standing there with the big moist nose.
“Inglés, English, Español, Chinese, whatever language you care to use.¨ Coyote replied. ¨Do you accept credit cards?¨
¨Yes.¨ said the cashier, shifting her glance nervously left and right.
Coyote handed the old card across. ¨Will there be anything else?¨
She waited for authorization of the card, which evidently came through, then handed the credit card back to Coyote, and the bag full of seed packets.
¨Thank you.¨ said Coyote as he turned and walked out of the feed store, his hind legs shaking almost imperceptibly… he was getting tired of balancing on only two legs.
Looking in his fanny belt, Coyote realized he was out of money for the return fare. No problem for a coyote. He would just run home. In three hours he was back home and lying in the shade of the mesquite bush once again. He took a long nap in the late afternoon. Just before dusk, he went out to the canal with his seeds and began to scatter them around. Then he kicked dirt over the seeds. After that, he took an old plastic milk jug and tore the top off with his teeth, then began filling it in the canal, and watering the ground with the fresh seed. He worked away until well after dark, then curled up under his mesquite bush for a well deserved rest. Three days later the first sprouts came up in Coyote´s garden, and he knew his life was about to take a change for the better.
Question: Why would a carnivore like Coyote be interested in growing vegetables? Find out in part 2.