A neighbor told me that another neighbor told him that yet another neighbor saw a mountain lion on the road below our house a week ago Friday.
Though cougar sightings have been more frequent of late (there was one reported in downtown San Anselmo), this is the first we've heard of one near our house. Unlike snakes of which I am absolutely terrified, mountain lions just mostly fascinate me. The thought of a lion - a lion! - roaming amongst us suburbanites is a tiny bit delightful. The fact that we have yet to send them into extinction is somehow comforting. A little bit of wild mixed in with our over-processed modern world.
One morning last week I woke with Ben at 5:45. Occasionally I go running at this terrible hour - Ben leaves the house at 6:45 and often this is my only shot at a work-out. Lately, of course, it's been dark on my runs. Like, dark dark. Not isn't-it-a-gorgeous-dawn-dark but it-could-be-two-a.m.-dark. And what with the recent sighting of our friend the cougar, I was a little hesitant to head off into the night.
"You think it's safe?" I asked Ben, pulling on my running clothes. "Mountain lion-wise?"
He considered as he sipped his coffee. "The chances of you being attacked are very small," he said thoughtfully. "But dawn is when they hunt."
And so I redirected to the rebounder - the small trampoline I bought last spring whilst in the grip of a new exercise-diet regime and have barely been used since.
As I headed out into the yard to bounce myself into health, Ben called, "Will you bring that thing on to the deck?"
"Why?" I asked, pulling the trampoline out of the tanbark by the play structure, "Lions?"
"Yeah," he said, cereal bowl in hand, mouth full of cereal, "You'd be some kind of bait. 'Hi! Here I am! Mighty yummy!'"
I laughed and then sucked in my breath with a new realization. "And I'm on my PERIOD!"
"Blood in the water." He nodded knowingly, closing the sliding glass door as I yanked the rebounder safely onto the deck.
I bounced in the dark, eyes becoming attuned to the light - or lack thereof. Listening to the birds tentatively testing their morning songs. Watching the sky lighten over the hill. Starting a little when our cat leaped onto the deck. Watching a large tawny shape emerge in the gloaming by the playhouse - a doe grazing, probably a good indicator that our cougar was not on the prowl. Drinking in the silence before a busy day of noise and children, hopping ridiculously. A tasty little tidbit bouncing in the dark.