Early mornings, when it is so quiet you can hear the rumble of the train along the tracks five miles distant on Santa Fe Avenue, you can just about imagine a time before the people, and the traffic, and all the progress, when wildcats actually roamed the gulches here in Highlands Ranch.  That is why they call it Wildcat Reserve, donchyaknow.  Wildcats were here first, and not so very long ago.

A man I met fifteen years ago, who had built one of the earliest houses here in “The Ranch” (we know that’s a stretch), over off Springhill, told me when he moved in, he actually saw the wildcats.   I wish I had been so lucky.  Sitting on my porch with my cup of coffee, no plans in effect as yet, just looking out across the wash when a movement caught my eye, and my breath quickened as I realized a big, beautiful, powerful cat was looking back at me, mid stride; then, without taking his eyes from mine, almost lazily sat back to watch my every move.

Have you done that?  Startled an animal, then stared them down, playing chicken, refusing to quit first?   I did it once.  Saw a fox snooping along the fences in the open space.  He was a young one; beautiful red, intent on finding breakfast.   I stopped my walk, clicked my tongue, and watched his head snap up, furtively looked around (furtively is a good word, isn’t it), then locked eyes with me, and froze, wishing he were invisible.   He wasn’t, and I had time.  So I stood there, staring.  And he stared, too, then he twitched, darted left, then right, then ran like the furies as far out from me as he could get, down the path, into the tall grass.  He didn’t last but forty five seconds.  Chicken.   I heard the lady who owned the yard he was just about to scout through calling her kitty.  Breakfast thwarted.

Well, the sun is fully up now, the mourning doves have begun their keening, Emil Catt has found something to tease him in the yard, and my coffee, what’s left of it, is cold.

Here’s to another day and the good it will bring.  Sorrow, sadness, and potential wickedness be damned, along with the threatening snow.

rJo   2/16/19

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