Early morning several years ago, just as the sun was coming up, and because it was so clear all night with dropped temperatures, the frozen grass looked as if it would shatter if anything touched it. The air was so still, nothing moving, like a snapshot instead of real time.
We were on a mission above exit 25 on the Northway and the fact that it was so early, thankfully there was no traffic. As we reached an open area of fields and scrubby brush, surrounded by mountains off in the distance, out loped a lone gray wolf from the right and trotted across our two lanes to the median. We were close enough to see him clearly but thankfully not close enough to cause any harm. We slowed way down as we were fascinated, and in disbelief to what we were witnessing. We were hoping to slow his pace for a better look so we tapped the horn. To our amazement, he stopped and ever so slowly turned, dropped his head slightly and stared at the odd beast that made a sound not familiar to him.
In that remarkable handful of seconds that ticked, the only motion detected was his breath escaping as he stopped, locked eyes and stared. That stare was what was so dramatic and haunting, as if we had interrupted or disrupted his mission and with seemingly no reaction of fear. My sense was that he knew he was in control of his domain and that we were the trespassers. That stare gave credence to their famed, innate survival tactics and the stories written around those abilities. After his long pause and assessment that we were of no immediate threat, he turned and continued on his mission and we on ours.
It is so unusual to be able to experience that kind of spontaneous interaction, and just long enough to brand the vision into our collective memories. That unmistakable thick coat of winter fur in shades of gray tinged with white, the large commanding presence, tail down and curved under, and that stare. I’m sure that stare in the wild is what legends of the lone wolf spring from…Babbling Brook