He dropped onto the path in front of me. Soft. On velvet paws. His long black fur glistened in the waning sun, and for a moment I thought how wonderful it would be to snuggle him. Just for a moment.

He began to mosey, free and unhurried, surveying the bushes for ripe berries. And I wondered why this gift had been given to me. Just here. Just now. I maintained a respectful distance, but I couldn’t not follow him. An invisible tether compelled me forward. His body was languid. Fluid. He moved with elegant ease.

It finally occurred to me that I had my phone and a photograph might be in order. Just as I switched it to video, he heard me. I knew it because he stopped. And I stopped.

He turned and looked at me. Long.  “Interloper!” his eyes accused. And with a contemptuous “hmmphh”, he threw himself into the undergrowth. A scraping sound told me that he was going vertical. Soon I could see him grasping the trunk of a tree, pulling himself to the top. He perched himself on branches that did not look sturdy enough to support his weight. Then he waited. For the interloper to move on.

I regarded him for a few moments more, then carefully made my way past the tree with its reluctant burden. The trail wound about so that I was still within easy hearing distance when the rough rasp of claw against bark alerted me to the fact that he was coming down. I confess that I might have looked for him once or twice behind me. I also confess that I might have called my husband to inform him where they would find my remains in the event he decided he was, in fact, more angry than he at first seemed. And…I might have also sung, rather loudly, for the next half mile or so. 🙂

But I knew that when I told about this afternoon, for years to come, the most wondrous bit of the story would be the few moments I shared in the wild with this wondrous creature. I also felt sure that when he told the story, I would not come off so well. I was an inconvenience. Not so much an object of fear, but of frustration.

It gives one pause, this.


In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
~John Muir

Here are my brief, jiggly videos. Forgive the poor cameraman-ship.