I met a coyote, but she didn’t meet me. We connected in my lens only, where the weathered pipelines criss-cross Bolsa Chica, and coyotes sing their nightly howls and yips, feet submerged in pickleweed.

As the last light beamed across the mesa and down into the wetlands, this coyote traversed the mudflats, paws patting on the pipeline to the oil roads beyond.

Coyote on pipeline at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

She hopped down and pointed her muzzle back, revealing a second coyote, hidden in the scrub. The second coyote rose with a yogic stretch, and followed the same path, the same scents, the same instincts.

Coyote Stretching on Oil Pipeline

The two of them took a left turn on a dirt path, and trotted off away from the sunset and into the realm of pumpjacks and ground squirrels, disappearing into the dusk.

Coyote near Pumpjacks and Oil Drilling at Bolsa Chica

As we leave our time at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, I’m left with these images which will forever represent the incredible juxtaposition of elements that is Bolsa Chica. It’s a vision of contrasts, in both its past and present, with oil still pumping as feathered and four-legged life sidles alongside pipelines.

I feel immense sadness bidding farewell to this magical place of history and renewal. Until we meet again, I post this as an homage to song dogs and others who enrich these hills and flats they call home.

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