Preparing to maintain a golf course at 5 a.m. is like working by braille. There’s barely enough light from the shop to find our cart, trailer, and 2 greens mowers. By 5:10 a.m.we’re loaded and driving away from the maintenance yard to the 10th hole.
Andres is my partner this morning. We’re assigned to mow greens on the back nine, starting on hole ten. Same old. Same old. Except that Andres is a good buddy. We’ve spent countless hours working together, playing jokes on each other, and laughing together. It will be a good day because of it.
Driving almost a mile across the desert and golf course our jackets deflect the chill of the early morning air. We hear owls “hoot, hoot” as then return to their nests for the day. When rays of light streak across the sky from behind Four Peaks Mountain, the hawks shoot off into the faint light to start their hunting.
Traveling 12 mph down the cart paths we chuckle at the rabbits darting across the front of our cart, and the Gamble Quail flush into the air like 12 gauge buckshot. Short cutting through the desert we hear Cactus Wrens “chirp, chirp, chirp” so obnoxiously they sound like a dry wheel bearing.
Andres and I notice this nature tour in silence, each enjoying it in his own way. However, it’s not uncommon for Andres to shout at a rabbit to tell him that he waited too long to cross in front of us, and almost died. But we’re mostly silent.
Hand signals. We use them a lot on the golf course. Cresting a slope about seventy-five yards from the 10th green, it was the open hand Andres shoved in front of me that told me to stop. I didn’t know why, so I glanced at him seeing his finger at his lips. Ok, what’s up, I thought. He motioned to the green with a wide grin on his face, and I did the same.
Coyotes on a golf green isn’t that unusual. But mating? That’s unusual.
“If we make sound, he be angry with us,” Andres whispered in his best English.
“Okay, we’ll just wait and watch. Should we cover our eyes?” I whispered back.
Leaning back, folding our arms over our chests, we watched. And, we waited. Timing is everything when preparing a golf course, and this delay would put us behind schedule. If Senor Coyote didn’t finish soon, he’ll force us to race the clock to finish mowing before golfers catch us.
Finally, the male finished. Immediately the female coyote barked once and dashed into the desert. It was over. Now we can mow. As I released the brake on our cart, I felt Andre’s elbow in my side. I stopped and looked at him. He whispered, “Look, look.”
What I saw was unimaginable. I sagged back in my seat. We were delayed again. The male coyote was lying down on the green, with his legs wrapped around the flag pole. While I grew anxious, Andres saw more humor in the scene, and asked the Coyote . . .
“So, now you want cigarette?”