Dry brown bare patches of thin rocky soil,
Ponderosa pines covering crests of hills.
Who dwells there?
Cougar, coyote, lynx, bobcat, wild turkey, fox.
Enough deer, elk, bear, rabbit, marmot, skunk, chipmunk to keep a fine balance. Minks and weasels are night prowlers, rarely seen.
No poisonous snakes above 6,000 feet; there’s a respite.
One hippy couple I know feeds the tall turkeys dog food in large dog bowls on their deck.
The turkeys come in small flocks, five or six, fighting and jostling each other for turf or treat, gobbling their raucous racket.
Young deer come into their house to feed on dog food as well, and plenty of water.
Suddenly a hidden cougar springs at the mother deer on the deck, who flings herself into the woods, her fawn racing behind.
Crashing sounds through the woods for a half mile but no shriek of capture.
Cougars must use stealth, while deer use their fleet hooves.
A fair match in the close woods.
Natives tell newbies the sound of a cougar is like a woman’s scream. You’ll know it when you hear it.
First time I heard it I knew right then – an eerie primordial scream.
Humans get full use of these plains playgrounds in daytime. But as night settles in, it’s the critters’ turf.
Weird night sounds abound that I wake to and wonder.
Owls call to locate and mate.
Bears visit with their cubs if you’ve left your feeders out and full.
One small cub climbed on the deck to feast at the bird feeder as a toddler was eating his breakfast cereal.
“A BEAR!” he crowed.
Mama was not far.
The feeder had to come down as she took to visiting the deck nightly.
Western mountain living – spare in patches.
Plenty of solitude and open space.
We get to live here.