by Jane St. Clair
One of the best things about living out West is that you can still see animals in the wild. This is no small thing. Seeing these magnificent creatures who share our planet and watching them in their stealth animal maneuvers and pure instinctual energy-- this reminds us that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophies.
I often see coyote -these skinny dog-like creatures with their bushy fox tails - and I admire them. They are so clever. They are so much freer and smarter than our pampered pooches who get picked up by their "mommies" from day care. No coyote would ever be caught in a grooming salon! - not our clever friend, not this dignified hombre - he who knows how to look not just both ways but all ways all the time. I have seen them watching and waiting and then working their way across Oracle Road, all six lanes of it with its whizzing 50 mph speed limit, and then I've watched them walk in a dignified way back into their desert.
No problem, man.
I have seen black bear at night. They lumber almost clumsily, and then suddenly they stand upright on those two big feet -- and they are gigantic! I have seen them open trash bins and help themselves with their huge paws, paws perhaps three times the size of my hands. They could smash my skull with those paws so deadly equipped with hard claws - claws as fierce as knight's medieval gauntlets -- but yet, I still love them! Perhaps it is their simple black form that brings up some ancient memory in me - I think they must belong to the stars --to Ursa Major in the sky -- to something big and timeless and eternal.
The other night I drove up to my house and stood in front of a big mama bobcat, her tits hanging like the dogs of Rome, and yet she was beautiful! She was sleek and dappled with patches of brown and gray and she moved like grace itself. We checked each other out, but she with her glowing golden eyes saw no threat in me, and as she crept away on silent soft cat feet, I felt her contempt of my civilized mode of transportation. She was one acquainted with the night and unafraid, so what's with you, sister? You're bigger.
Because of all these animals, I was moved today when I learned about the St. Croix cougar, or as we'd say out west, the Santa Crux Big Cat. This lion made his way from the Dakotas to Connecticut - an incredible 1500-mile journey! Even jaded state officials called it "amazing news!" -- that this cougar was on the Wilbur Cross Parkway on June 11. The science-types, who tracked his DNA traces from the Black Hills to Minnesota (Dec. 11, 2009 sighting) to Wisconsin (May 20, 2010) to Connecticut, said this cat defied everything they knew.
I think I have fallen for him.
Santa Cruz Cat was a teenager, probably one in search of a mate, and like so many teenagers, he died on the highway. His tragic death was suitable for a young, romantic Romeo of the road and only adds to his mystique.
Like the animals I have seen out West, he is adventurous, he roams without maps, he presses forward no matter how uncharted the territory. He follows his intuition, he trusts the stars, he knows how to live unafraid. He teaches that it is not how or when you die that matters, but how you live that is important. Santa Crux, you were all those things, and I thank you for that. Good night, sweet prince.