To follow that heartwarming tale of my bipedal un-bliss, I would like to share a story about the time my whole family proved collectively that we are the weakest link. This retelling is prompted by a text my Dad sent me last night that said, "LV, you should write about the time we saw the liquid cougar." It took me a few seconds to get it because I read those last two words as "liquid courage", and I couldn't immediately place just one liquid courage story. To be fair, this text was completely out of context and very unexpected, so my confusion should be understandable. The liquid cougar story starts with a family trip to the ranch, which is always an at least moderately disorganized and chaotic affair--we're sort of an overwhelming wolf pack as it is, but we're especially overwhelming in the calm, quiet town of Fossil. Generally every trip involves taunting Samantha for awhile about cows, turning deer-spotting into a lucrative sport, marveling at the jell-o aisle in the general store and asking my Dad for a horse every time we pass the Appaloosa farm. All normal. Or at least relatively.
Then we always go on a family walk, which involves my Dad wandering off ahead because he "just wants to check one thing", my brother hitting things with sticks, my Mom power walking behind my older sister and I, and we're probably telling each other things like, "Minky, you're being the worst", and responding with "No, you're being the worst!" My little sister Samantha though throws us all for a loop though and scrambles up the side of the hill, where she poses on an outcropping of rock and shouts, "HA HA, YOU FOOLS!" Actually, the YOU FOOLS was pretty normal, she tells us that a lot. But then she shrieked and disappeared from view. We collectively pause, look at each other in confusion, then turn towards the direction of Sam's voice. My Mom says, "Saaam?" and I helpfully point out that somebody should do something, or 'go up there', because whatever took care of Sam might still be in fighting form. This is a fine example of my usual abandonment of all logic. We continue to watch the rock until Sam starts coming down the hill with her hand pressed to her mouth, crying and shaking. We're still not entirely sure what's going on. It isn't altogether unusual for Sam to be laughing and crying and becoming a Brooklyn taxi driver within seconds of each other, so I think it's fair to say this a boy who cried wolf scenario. Finally she gets out, "SNAKES", at which point I'm ready to run*. You couldn't pay me to stick around and watch a snake situation unfold, unless it was roughly two million dollars. I've thought about it at length, and that's my price. Sam though is fine, as the two (or twelve, they hide everywhere) little (enormous) Bull (possibly rattle) snakes were just trying to have some fun (plot our ultimate demise) in the sun.
Rachelle asks her who the fool is now. Classic.
We continue on our fun, old-fashioned family walk up the adobe road and into Sam's meadow--I'm still trying to work out why this particular stretch of grass is hers or how it's a meadow at all, but that's a story for a different day.
Now, this portion of my memory is a little hazy because things started happening very fast and I have terrible reflexes. All I know is that one second a doe comes flying through the grass straight towards us, and I know she was close because I could see her eyes were wide open and scared. Then my Dad is pointing at the hillside across the adobe road, and that's when we needed all the liquid courage we could get. Because rippling down through the gray green of the grass is an altogether elegant and frightening mass of muscle and claw and acute senses coming after the deer, and consequently us. Sam takes her camera out.
Our instincts may be dulled by civilization, but even I know that we didn't have a chance against that cougar if he got it into his primal little mind that we were lunch.
Luckily, a 30/30 might, and that coug knew right away who was going to win the fight against a bullet, so he hightailed it out the other way over the ridge and out of sight. I don't know if I can describe how he moved. It wasn't a charge, it was no run, not even a loping stride. This is why he is the liquid cougar, because he flowed over rocks and trees and dirt. He undulated, faster and colder and more calculating than you would believe.
We stood for a moment in stunned silence before walking back, each of us furtively glancing over our shoulders. You know he was sitting up a tree somewhere, tail twitching, watching us come and go, bicker and laugh at each other. You fools, he thinks.
*just kidding, I would never run in a snake scenario. I've studied a variety of different situations, and when presented with a rattlesnake you should back away slowly and watch your step. Where there's one, there's many. Knowledge is power!