Saturday, February 18, 2012
Today my luck was better. Mid afternoon we were driving on a gravel logging road. Suddenly up ahead trotted a small bobcat. She (?) continued ahead of us for about a hundred yards and then popped into the think tangle of salmonberry bushes that have grown up on a horrendously steep slope. I peered over the edge, but I knew that would be the last of her. She reminded me to think about the bobcats I’ve seen. Half have been quick glimpses like today, but some sightings have been longer.
My first will always have a special place in my heart, partly because it was my first, and partly because it was a beautiful sighting. I was on my way home after teaching an evening art class. When I turned off the main highway and headed down a blacktop road for the last ten miles I entered a world of solitude and snow. The road ahead was unblemished white. There was only about an inch of new snow so I knew I’d get home safely. I drove slowly, feeling as though I was in my own world of snowflakes. The sameness of it all was shattered when a bobcat crossed the road. Our paths crossed on that dark snowy night, soon to be erased by more falling snow, but not erased from my memory.
Sheepy Ridge(Klamath Basin Refuges, California) was especially good to us sunny fall day. We were parked between a large body of water and the steep incline of Sheepy Ridge. Dale was photographing a shrike on the ridge side. He has me reasonably well trained not to interrupt him when he is concentrating on a photo. But out of the water came a drenched bobcat! Only the bobcat’s head was dry. The rest was lean and soaked. The bobcat had obviously lunged into the water, caught the coot, and now needed a quiet place to eat. He crossed the road to the Sheepy Ridge side. Dale clicked away while the cat headed up the slope to the rocks above.
Maybe my favorite bobcat sighting is the bobcat that never saw me. At least I don’t think he saw me. Lava Beds National Monument headquarters, California, has a large parking lot, visually well blocked from the road. Only the entrance shows. I was walking circles in the lot, getting some exercise while I waited for Dale. When I was at the far end I glimpsed a bobcat through that entrance opening. He was heading east towards the main road. I froze, but as soon as he was out of sight I ran to the entrance and peered around the corner – just in time to see him turn left onto the main road.
I ran to that corner and peered around again. There he trotted, enjoying the easy path of the road, the early morning sun, and crisp still air.
Drat! Off in the distance I heard a car coming. Cars are occasional, so each one can be heard from far off. I knew The bobcat would disappear. He did, but only for a moment. As soon as the car passed he was back up on the road, continuing his path north. I stayed put watching him grow smaller.
A second car came and once again he popped just off the road. He must have been within ten feet of the car. If the driver had looked in his rear view mirror he would have seen the bobcat on the road.
How many bobcats have seen me go by without my seeing them?