Illusion of Safety – Gone Again
The woods extend on both sides of the road and total about 20 acres. Around the bend at the top of the road the lane meanders through the woods with houses interspersed on one acre parcels. But the woods are a smaller remnant of deeper woods behind the housing development as well as a deeply wooded national park that begins 1/2 mile up the road beyond the dairy farm.
My walk is a joy in the morning with the coolness of the woodsy air as we approach the woods and the sound of the squirrels and birds. I check how much water is in the stream and what wildflowers are dotting the woods on any given day.
But a couple of weeks ago our neighbors were walking by these same woods in the evening. A cougar jumped out onto the road ahead of them and stopped and stared at them. Their 13 year old son raised up his arms and yelled and the cougar disappeared back into the woods.
This was not the first cougar sighting in the general area, but it was the first one I know of that involved the 20 acre wood.
The woods are no less delightful and magical. But now I approach them with caution and look into the shadows hoping not to see any telltale large catlike movement or a surprise in the road ahead of me. My dog is a 13 lb. silky terrier, seems just the right size to appeal to a cougar appetite.
Maybe I’m tempting fate. These same woods are also habitat for brown bears. But the magic of a woodsy micro climate right around the corner is too seductive to abandon. Besides I can always raise my arms and yell. Oh, and by the way, I no longer take the path back through the woods as I head home.