Our daughter saw him first, but we didn’t believe her because she was only six and made up stories. She had a story about a bird that lived under her bed and another about a deer who would eat from her hand. This one was about a wolf at the back door. She told us at breakfast and we pretended to believe her.
Then my husband saw the paw prints outside the back door.
My grandmother lived with us and she knew these woods better than anyone. She said there was a cure for wolves that yearned to be with people. But that we must be sure we wanted him gone. A full moon was about to rise. The perfect time to be rid of him. We left a circle of ashes all around the house. When our daughter went to sleep we watched from the window. The wolf went around our property, unable to find a way into our lives.
After that we collected wild things: birds, deer, any lost creature that came to our door. My daughter wept at the door. Sometimes you don't know you've made a mistake until it's over and done. I would see his shadow, out beyond the birch trees. I called to him, but it did no good. We had brought it upon ourselves. We didn't understand the beauty of the world until it had gone.