A Cat Nap Miracle

Rainbow Medicine-Walker

© Copyright 2024 by Rainbow Medicine-Walker

Image by 12019 from Pixabay
Image by 12019 from Pixabay

We had an early spring that year which did not stick. The nesting songbirds were back but dawn came in frosty and gray that day. I bundled up in my red and orange woolen poncho to hike the mountain for sunrise ceremony. I prefer to blend with the environment, but bright colors were required so I would stand out, in case any of the locals who liked to randomly shoot about in the woods was feeling frisky. The climb was steep and I was tired, so when I reached the viewpoint I did what I often do, lie down in a relatively flat spot to take a brief rest.

I was quite warm from huffing uphill, so I wrapped my poncho tightly around myself and curled up in a ball. As I relaxed into the peace of this familiar place, I could hear the creek rushing by filled with snowmelt, down in the ravine off to the side. A few feathered fluffs were chirping and flitting about noisily in the dry underbrush, searching for breakfast.

Iím not sure how long I had been drifting on the edge of sleep, when something, I donít know what exactly, made me come alert. I didnít move as I was too relaxed, but I did open my eyes and instantaneously my gaze was caught and held by the eyes of a large, healthy and equally frozen in place male bobcat. He was about 6 feet from my head, standing statue still, caught with one front paw raised ready to take the next step toward me, when my opening eyes must have startled him.

We stared directly at each other for at least a full minute; an out of time moment which felt infinitely longer. I was too entranced to feel afraid and I had the sense the bobcat was not quite sure what to do. He quivered with muscles bunched as though primed to spring onto or over me, but was perilously undecided.

I just looked and thirstily drank in this stunning magnificent being who had suddenly appeared; the reality of which my dazed mind could not logically process. All coherent thought had ceased and I was stripped down to pure essential wonder and sensation. The bobcatís head seemed enormous to me. Perhaps because I was lying down and he was rather close or maybe the head really was unusually large. I remember that his brown striped body with tawny under belly seemed to stretch on and on and his raised paw appeared to be bigger than the palm of my own hand.

I noticed these things through my peripheral vision as I never looked away from his eyes. I wish I could adequately describe them. All the adjectives seem worn and tired when confronted with the wild primal fierceness that revealed itself to me through those eyes.

They were golden with black pupils that pierced the core of things with unending depth. There were flecks of other colors scattered among the gold; a hint of green or blue perhaps, definitely some brown. To say they were otherworldly is a laughable understatement. It was as though all of nature had been encapsulated into a single enduring contact. Universes were born, stars went supernova and comets extinguished themselves while eternity passed between us.

I carefully raised my head slightly with an unconscious desire to see more clearly, and instantly the bobcat made his decision. Without ever looking away from me he began to slowly back up the trail one paw at a time. It was elegant to witness and in my sharpened awareness it appeared that each paw had a distinct and separate intelligence which was communicating itself to the ground beneath it.

He backed perhaps a hundred feet up the path before turning and leaping lithely into the surrounding forest. As I watched him slowly recede up the hill, I came back to myself and conscious thought returned. I had marked the spot where the bobcat retreated into the brush and excitement filled me at the thought of tracking this elusive creature.

I got up, shook myself, both metaphorically and literally and walked up the trail to see if I could spot anything interesting. There were a few large boulders strewn about, some with tantalizing glimpses of potential cavities underneath. I had a thought that perhaps the bobcat had a den somewhere around there. I briefly considered searching for it and then decided that no, I wanted to hug this precious connection to myself and simply be grateful. I did not want to chase this fellow being and invade his privacy.

This event has never lost its magical quality, although later I did doubt my own perceptions in regards to how large the bobcat actually was. That is until a few months afterwards when I was walking in an open river drainage twenty miles or so distant from my previous encounter and spotted another bobcat, standing in the water, surrounded by slick grayish stones reflecting sparkles of luminous light. Some unknown something again made me turn around and look back down the river from whence I had just come. I saw a large cat, about a hundred feet away, standing in full glorious sun while staring fixedly up river directly at me. This time I had something to judge relative scale by because I knew approximately how large the boulder he was standing next to was, since I had just been sitting there about 5 minutes previous.

At first I thought it must be a cougar, it was so big. Then as he moved, possibly trying to get wind of my scent, I got a good look at the spots and stripes of his coat and at his ears and tail. It was definitely a very large bobcat. I was sure it was not a lynx, because of those telltale spots and stripes. Also we supposedly do not have lynx in this area. I say supposedly because we really do not know as much about the habits and territories of wild creatures as we like to think we do. This later sighting confirmed for me though that we did indeed have some very large bobcats nearby.

Needless to say I was delighted to have interacted with two such gorgeous cats. In the years since, I have spotted a few other bobcats fleeing away from my car as I was driving by. None as large and none that I felt such a profound connection with.

Some like to dismiss direct wild animal to human communication as anthropomorphism. While I understand the desire not to project human ideas onto other species, in my opinion it is arrogant and silly to deny such communication exists since we obviously have so much in common with the other creatures we share this amazing planet with. I believe that both bobcats communed briefly with me and that we exchanged something tangible. You can call it energy, spirit or just a simple acknowledgement of each otherís existence.

I learned much from the native elders of my youth about the wisdom and power of nature. Iím not sure we can ever fully know a wild being, but I am certain that everything on this earth is in some kind of conversation with every other thing; whether we understand it or not. We are each given gifts of opportunity to stop and absorb what the natural world is trying to tell us. I have found it is always worthwhile to embrace and appreciate those opportunities.

Science has Ďdiscoveredí that trees talk with each other through their roots. I wonder how long it will be before we finally Ďdiscoverí that our entire landscape is speaking to us all the time, we only need to listen.

Rainbow Medicine-Walker is an enrolled member of the federally recognized Cherokee Nation. She is the granddaughter of Cherokee Admiral JJ Clark, Chief Water Dweller and Chief Thunderbird. She is a veteran, elder and ceremonial leader. Rainbow writes to tell the truth to herself and share with others who resonate.

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