Santa Fe, New Mexico is a great destination for a foodie, and I’m not even a foodie. I was there in February of 2010 for a conference on prosecuting child abuse, and after my last class I walked through old Santa Fe to have dinner at Amavi Restaurant, had a hot oolong tea at a local teahouse, and then strolled through the crisp night air back to Room 220 to pack for the flight home.
The next morning I rose early and caught the airport shuttle at 6 a.m. As the sun rose over the distant white capped mountains, the shuttle slowed to almost a stop on the interstate to let a coyote pass in front of us. I knew that had to mean something, so I did a little digging…
If I was a Navajo, that would mean good luck was coming my way. But I’m not Navajo.
If I was a Redneck, I would shoot it and mount it on my hood. But I’m not a Redneck.
If I was an Animal Activist, I might get out and make sure no coyote cubs were trapped on the side of the road, but that’s not me.
If I was a no-specific-tribe Shaman, which sounds the most interesting, I would take this sighting of Coyote, the famous trickster, to remind me not to take myself too seriously, and to strike and maintain a healthy balance between wisdom and folly. I like that one.
I arrived at the Santa Fe airport in time to make it through security and board to fly west. I had to travel west to Phoenix in order to go east to Little Rock. I arrived in the Phoenix airport at Gate C7 to discover that I had 3 1/2 hours to walk 50 feet to Gate C6. Just as I sat down and opened my journal to document the people around me, I received a text informing me that the person who had recently beat me out of the judicial seat was already running for another office. I quickly put that annoyance out of my head and focused on the coyote’s lesson. My journal:
I’m sitting in a black upholstered seat with the Southwest Airlines symbol on it. To my right and in front of me is a row of seats with their backs to the big window looking out over the tarmac where the big jets come and go. On the far right is an older guy in blue warm-ups with a green John Deere cap on his head. He’s reading a newspaper through his big square glasses and he’s wearing a cell-phone earpiece, which seems out of place given the rest of his outfit. What appears to be his wife sits next to him, propping up her head full of short grey hair with her left hand as she reads a book. She is apparently accustomed to his involuntary tremors that shake his hands and rattle the newspaper.
To her right, further down the row, is another couple. He is reading a very thick book until she starts talking, at which point his body language and countenance show the frustration he’s careful not to express in words as he marks his place in the book and puts it in his carry-on, knowing he won’t be able to read it. She reorganizes both their bags now, then rises as she picks up her red purse, buts on her white sweater and walks to the other side of the terminal. He takes a sip of his Coke, pulls his book back out and leans back into his chair with contentment.
Immediately to the left of her now empty seat sits an obese white man, but just about the time all his weight was on the chair, his name is called over the P.A. system and he rises again, with some effort, and walks over to the desk. When he returns he disappears into a novel and therefore some world separate from Gate C6 of the Phoenix Airport.
A man with a hat is now sitting where the first couple was. My favorite character, easily. If I didn’t believe Mr. Jackson would have his own plane, I would say this was Samuel L. Jackson. He is smartly dressed in all black except for a white collar and white socks. He has a travel pillow on his lap, holding a paper food-boat of chicken fingers. He has a soda in a paper cup on the little table between the seats. He pushes up his left sleeve, takes a chicken strip, treats himself to a bite of it as he surveys the people around him, and the puts his face in his right hand in disgust. He puts the first chicken strip down and picks up another, takes a singular bite and then politely drops the whole basket of them in the garbage can.
We board the plane.
I leave the coyote behind but take his wisdom of appreciating folly along with me.