I realize I’ve made it onerously apparent in posts from the past that Mel and I have moved 850 miles from a place we called home for many decades to the Nebraska Panhandle. Wow, what a move. It’s a whole ‘nother country out here, and we’re loving it, snow and all. We’re still looking for a church where we will feel more a part of this small town, but the neighbors, shopkeepers…pretty much every single person we’ve met reassure us by their kindness that we’ve made a good choice.
Um, see this picture? I believe it’s also one of our neighbors–not human. Coming from southern Missouri, where I hiked most of my life on logging trails, I’ve seen pretty much every kind of track available, including mountain lion. That’s why when I saw this set of tracks in our front drive, and noted that the stride matched mine, and that the tracks were all around our house, from dumpster in back to the country road several hundred feet from our house, I came running inside, squealing to Mel. He shoved a camera into my hand and sent me back out to take pictures–it was New Year’s Eve and he was recovering from the flu like everyone else.
So I went back outside, cluelessly unarmed, and followed the tracks, searching for some sign of claw mark, because if it has a claw mark it could be a large dog. Thing is, there are NO large dogs allowed to run wild in this area. Coyotes, yes, and I saw a lot of those tracks in the snow, as well. They came all the way up to our front door. But they have shorter, more hyper-looking steps, walking in circles, and they can’t retract their claws. Coyotes don’t scare me.
Mountain lions, however, make me very uncomfortable. I saw no claw marks in these tracks. It frightened me to the point that I emailed my uncle, whom I turn to with all my wild questions, and he told me this definitely sounded like a mountain lion and to watch my back. So we’ve called our neighbors and warned them so they can keep their dogs inside. We’ve dug out our weapons for protection just in case, and we won’t let the cat outside ever in a million years.
And now that I’ve managed to download these pictures I’ll be sending them to the state authorities to notify them of a presence in the area. Two mountain lions had to be shot in a town 35 miles northwest of us. They’d climbed into the backyards of homes. Have you watched the television show, Zoo? I know I’m freaking, but it feels kind of like that right now. Oh, yes, all that and I still LOVE it here. We have tumbleweeds! Right now I’m using them to decorate the front porch. No, I’m not kidding. I grew up in So CAL, where I built forts with tumbleweeds. I’m loving it!
Besides the wildlife–including the moose we’ve been warned about, and the prairie rattlesnakes–we’re learning that we can’t pop out to Walmart and be back home in less than an hour. We’ve learned that the Nebraska Panhandle is most definitely part of the wild, wild west, with formations such as Chimney Rock, Courthouse Rock, Jail Rock, Scotts Bluff National Monument, and the wildcat hills–all visions of beauty that take my breath away. We’ve learned that we love these wide open spaces, with sandhills to the north and east of us, prairie and hills and formations, plateaus and buttes to the south and west. I recently had a friend ask about where would be the best place to vacation between Colorado Springs and Mount Rushmore. Wow. I could keep her busy for weeks.
Don’t worry about the safety of the mountain lion; I couldn’t bring myself to shoot it unless it’s charging me or someone else. I did, however, score a 97% in my shooting course, and my weapon is fit for the task.
And now to alert the authorities.