Mountain lion sightings and hopes for my May newsletter
April 23, 2024

Mountain lion sightings and hopes for my May newsletter

I have no patience for people who complain about rabbits eating their flowers and moles undermining their lawns and snails doing whatever they do in large, creepy herds. Our house is in a beautiful community with so many trees that it’s like living in a forest. It’s quiet and picturesque, and the number of homicidal psychopaths per thousand of residents is so low that we spend no more than an hour or two a week worrying about death by chain saw. But now we have mountain lions.

The community board recently sent everyone a serious and lengthy alert regarding mountain lions sighted in the immediate area. These are not the kind of lions you will see in an animated film with inspiring music by Elton John. These are the kind of lions that, wherever they go, are accompanied by either the theme music from Psycho or that from Jaws. For those residents who cannot think clearly for themselves, the board suggests that small pets and little children not be staked out in the yard alone. It was also suggested that adults, confronted by a mountain lion, should “make yourself look as large as possible and shout very loud at the lion.” I am therefore wearing an inflatable Michelin Tire Man suit and carrying a bullhorn.

Because there is no Michelin Tire Dog suit available and because I worry about our beloved golden retriever, I took it upon myself to research California mountain lions. I learned that these magnificent beasts can weigh 400 pounds or more, yet they never wonder if they are obese. Their fangs are so long and sharp that they can tear open your chest as if you were made of tissue paper while simultaneously eviscerating you with their claws, all in 5.3 seconds—or in 9.7 seconds if they feel like toying with you before killing you. They are loving parents and enjoy watching their cubs play. The cubs are very cute. They will be less cute when full-grown. An adult lion can effortlessly jump over a 12-foot high fence. After clearing such a fence, they have been known to laugh at the people who thought it provided protection. A mountain lion’s laugh is said to be one-third chortle, one-third snicker, and all snarl. Those who have heard it agree that it is not the kind of laughter that is contagious.

When I heard about a man, Herbert, who had been attacked by a mountain lion and bravely defended himself, I went to see him to learn what he could tell me about defending against such a beast. Herbert was not at home when I called, because he was dead. I didn’t see much point in visiting him in the graveyard, so I went to see the man, Ralph, who had been Herbert’s hiking companion when the violent encounter with nature occurred. Ralph described it so succinctly and beautifully that I cannot improve on what he said by making it flowery the way novelists do. Ralph told me, “When Herb saw that big cat, he stood straight and tall, spreading his arms out, making himself look as big as he could, shouting so loud he kind of scared me. But he only pissed off the lion, and it killed him.”

These days, I spend most of my time indoors. Walking the dog is no longer essential because I’ve taught her to use the toilet. I am doing a lot of reading and enjoying it. Whether or not you live where there are lions, you will find reading novels to be a pleasurable pastime, especially if they are mine, and most especially if one of them is my latest, The Bad Weather Friend, which Herbert would have greatly enjoyed if he hadn’t gone hiking.

We really did get such an alert from our community board. I am hoping soon to receive another alert on some equally urgent subject because, at the moment, I have no idea what to write for the May newsletter.

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