16 April 2010

Wild coyotes in Paradise!!!

Saline Beach is perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Located on the southern side of St. Barths, the half-mile long crescent of dazzling white sand is unspoiled by any nearby man-made structures. As you might expect, getting there is a schlep, albeit a scenic one.

First stop is a parking area bordered by abandoned salt flats. (The salt works were closed down in the mid-sixties, putting all the mules out of work.) At the end this space is a short dirt road, ending in a fence at which one makes a ninety degree left turn, and walks 50 yards down a ten yard wide path bounded by scrub bushes shielding an almost invisible wire fence on each side of the path. Trees arching overhead shade the beachgoers. Beyond the border of bushes is typical St. Barths bramble. At the end of this path is a hill climb leading to the top of the dune and a breathtaking vista down the dune to beach and the sea.

Last week, as Pinks and I were traversing the path leading to the hill climb, we encountered a man, woman, and ten-year old boy returning from the beach. Just as we were abreast of them about half-way down the path, the boy stopped, pointed into the boundary bushes and exclaimed in a frightened tone, “Look, Ma, an animal! What is it? What is it?” Pinks and I stopped and looked too.

The upper-east-side mother looked at where her son was pointing, and shouted, “A coyote, a coyote. Oh m’god, a coyote! Don’t look at it, maybe it won’t notice us!” at which time she grabbed her son’s arm and moved smartly toward the parking area at a pace calculated to reach her destination as quickly as possible but at the same time minimizing the likelihood of attracting the attention of the carnivore lurking behind the bushes and invisible wire fence.

Pinks and I, being natural born wild animal trainers, were fascinated. We had been unaware of the St. Barths coyotes. Nobody had ever mentioned them. Nevertheless, I was fearless. As far as I knew, coyotes are small, about the size of a Spaniel, and while they are known to hunt in packs and take a small dog every now and then in parts of the Unites States countryside, I was pretty confident that individual coyotes do not attack people, especially when the coyote and the people are separated by a wire fence. So while the tourists executed their hasty withdrawal from the scene, we stood our ground and peered through the bushes.

We did not see a typical St. Barths wild coyote. What we saw was a typical adorable St. Barths wild goat, peacefully chewing on typical St. Barths wild vegetation. The floppy-eared goat was about three times the size of the largest coyote in history, had an udder the size of a basketball, and never stopped eating her bramble leaves.

The meeting was soon adjourned: East Side Mom shepherded her family to the safety of her rented automobile, Goat Mom continued chewing on her nutritious green leaves, and the Londons climbed the hill, descended to the beach, sunned, swam, and ate their jambon et frommage paninis. To avoid dehydration, they had packed in a six-pack of Red Stripe.

Moral: Even in Paradise, everyone worries about something. East Side Mom worries about being eaten by coyotes, Goat Mom worries about being undisturbed so she can eat enough to feed her kids, and I worry about whether Winair will be flying on the sad day we leave Goat Mom behind.

A bientot.

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