Out of the Ordinary

by Jenna Miller | Feb 1, 2024 | 0 comments

We were ordinary people on an ordinary day, when something extraordinary happened.

It was a gray morning. As I was hanging up wash, the sudden, furious barking of our dog Ike jerked me out of my musings. I glanced in the direction he was looking and beheld a moving form on the other side of a nearby tree line, about 100 yards/meters away.

Since our next-door neighbors have sheep, my first thought was, Probably it’s just a sheep that got out, or maybe it’s a coyote. But just to be sure, I sprinted to the house for the binoculars. “There’s some animal out there,” I vaguely informed my sisters.

Dashing back outside, I ran toward the tree line, a narrow draw of scrubby trees that jutted into our field. The closer I get the better, I thought, and ran down the slope to the trees. Mistake. The creature had moved, and now I had to tip my binoculars up through the brush in order to see it. If I had stayed on higher ground, I would have had a better view of it. But my brain did not think that far until later.

So—where was the animal? I scanned the area where I had last seen it. Nothing. Ike was at my side, so I commanded, “Ike, go get it!” He barked in a slightly different direction, and then I saw it. Ah, yes, over by the next tree line. Ike ran about 10 feet (3 m), then stopped, ears erect, tail poised in the air, hair standing on end, and TENSE. Almost shaking with excitement, I tried to hold the binoculars still to get a clear view, meanwhile urging Ike to run after the thing. It was difficult to see anything with the brush I was peering through.

Ike finally mustered the courage to go to the other side of the draw, but he WOULD NOT GO CLOSER. The creature slunk toward the woods, turned around, and slunk back. There, finally! I managed to get a half-clear view of it—a square nose, a heavy body, a tan coat, a slinking figure.

“Jenna!” my sister Celesta screamed from the house. AND THE CREATURE DISAPPEARED INTO THE WOODS. I neared the house out of breath, and the first question was blasted in my ear, “What do you think it was?”

Oh. I stopped short. In my excitement, I was so flustered, I forgot to try to decide for sure what it was!

“Jenna,” Celesta said, relieved I was now in the safety of the house, “was it…a…mountain lion?”

“Well, yes, of course!” Suddenly the light dawned in my brain. That explained my very picture, yet why hadn’t I thought of that before?? But…oh! The very thought sent shivers up my back. Was I actually that close to a mountain lion?!

It was not a sheep; we knew that for a fact. A coyote?… But it didn’t trot like a coyote. Also, wouldn’t a coyote have run from a human and a dog? Until my sister had hollered, this creature had paced back and forth. Obviously, he hadn’t felt too threatened by my presence. A mountain lion would act more like that, not?

Questions and opinions flew thick and fast! “How did its nose look?”

“What color was it?”

“It paced like a cat.”

“It had a heavy, low belly.”

“Did you see a tail?”

I tried hard to pull the fleeting image of that animal into my mind so as to answer their questions. A tail? “No, I didn’t see any tail,” I admitted. It was turning around when I got that look at it, and I only saw head and body.

“Oh dear,” moaned Celesta. “I should have let you stay down there! Then you could have gotten a good look. Oh, why didn’t I think?! It was too far for us to see clearly, especially with those trees in the way. But that long, yet big and stocky, tan form gliding along just made us think ‘mountain lion.’ And I couldn’t stand how close you were!’’ she finished.

The ceaseless chatter of four excited girls finally generated a comment from our practical mom. ‘’Girl’s, it probably wasn’t a mountain lion.”

Of course not! Why would we have seen one? Those are rare creatures! But then—what was it?

A long, low-bellied, stray dog exploring our property? But if it was, then Ike wouldn’t have been so petrified! You really should have seen him. He still stood, poised by the wash lines, staring in the direction of the creature.

What about a bobcat? But this was too large!

If only the men were here! They would surely have some sensible piece to add to the puzzle.

We pulled out our scrapbook. There was the picture of the mountain lion we had seen at the zoo last summer. “Jenna, look at this!” my sisters beckoned.

One glance at it was sufficient. “Yes! That’s it! A perfect description!”

A truck drove in the lane. Good! It was our brother, Tristan. Several of us girls raced out to tell him. “We wish you’d check your game camera,” we finished.

“But it doesn’t have the chip in,” he said. “I’ll go put it in right now. It’s not unlikely that you saw one, though. You know they saw one about twenty minutes south of here recently?”

That evening, Daddy and some of us children explored the field it had been walking in, for tracks that might give us evidence. Though most were unclear, Daddy felt sure that one of them was undeniably cat-like.

Conversation buzzed as we ate supper. “Girls, why didn’t you grab my camera, draw it up, and snap a picture? That’d be real evidence!” Tristan said.

‘’We just didn’t think that far….’’ came the mournful reply.

Marshall remarked sadly, “Why do things like that always happen when I’m at school?”

An uncertain sister wondered, “Are you sure it walked like a cat?

“Yes.’’ replied Mama, who had now grown accustomed to the idea. “It definitely did not trot like a dog.” A chorus of other voices strongly agreed.

By now we were pretty confident that our visitor was indeed a mountain lion.

Someone quoted Pooh Bear, “ I think it was a Woozle, or maybe it was a Wizzle! And we were just bears of very little brains!” Everyone laughed.

That was the first and last time we saw our visitor. The dog faithfully continued his vigil for a few days. Even I rested easier when I again beheld him snoozing on the ground in the middle of the day! Hopefully, the mountain lion is miles away today!

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