I learned on Saturday that I married a liar. Dave and I went for a hike at a nature preserve near our house, and he told me that the trail was about 3 miles long. Now, I know that 3 miles may not seem like much to some of you (like my cousin Miss Triathlon), but I am a wuss, and an out-of-shape wuss at that. So three miles in hilly, rough terrain with my bad knee (and dodging enormous piles o’ poop the whole time, because apparently this is also a trail where a lot of people go horseback riding) seemed like a lot. But it’s been a while since I’ve worked out, so I knew that I needed it, and it seemed do-able. I found out over halfway through it that Dave was full of crap, and the trail was actually FIVE miles long. I don’t know that I’ve ever hiked 5 miles in my life. I wasn’t prepared for that kind of distance, I didn’t even bring a bottle of water with me. And lord, the pain I was in afterward. I couldn’t walk up and down the stairs of our house without making little whiny “ow” noises. I’m proud of myself now for having survived, but I doubt I’ll be doing that again anytime soon.
In “this is another reason why I don’t like living in the boonies” news, our local weekly newspaper had a cover story this week about the fact that there have been several cougar sightings in our area recently. Holy sh*t. One anecdote:
On September 17, also near Duvall, a woman reported she was out working in her flowerbeds hwen six deer came into the yard. A cougar ran right past her chasing them.
The article has a reference to a website that tells you what to do in case you encounter a cougar. Do you know what to do if you see a cougar? Me neither. But I do now. Here’s a partial list of action items, complete with my commentary in italics:
* Stop, stand tall and don’t run. Pick up small children immediately. Running and rapid movements may trigger an attack. Remember, a cougar’s instinct is to chase. [Ok, this makes sense, I’m with them so far.]
* Face the cougar, talk to it firmly and slowly back away. Always leave the animal an escape route. [You want me to talk to it? Really? And forget the cougar’s escape route, what about mine?]
* Try to appear larger than the cougar by getting above it. (e.g., stepping up onto a stump). If wearing a jacket, hold it open to further increase your size. [Right. Talk to it and hold my jacket open so I look thoroughly insane, and scare the cougar off that way. Makes sense.]
* Do not take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. [Um, duh??]
* If the animal does not flee and shows signs of aggression (crouches with ears back, teeth bared, hissing, tail twitching, and hind feet pumping in preparation to jump), be more assertive. [Sure thing, right after I poop my pants.] Shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger. [This reminds me of a rottweiler that almost attacked me when I was in high school. I did, in fact, jump toward it screaming, and the dog stopped dead in his tracks and stared at me like I was crazy. So I guess that would work.]
So, this one little article sent me into a tailspin of worry, where I started imagining worst-case scenarios of what I would do if I found a cougar in our yard. I mean, I freaked out last night because I found a raccoon in our kitchen. (Apparently he likes cat food.) But a cougar? I have no idea how to deal with that. And then I start to think that maybe we need to have a gun for these wild kingdom-esque situations. The thing is, I am about as anti-gun a person as you’ll ever meet. I have never touched a gun in my life. In seventh grade, they made all of us take a “hunter’s education” class, because that’s what happens when you grow up in a red state, and part of the class involved going to a shooting range and learning how to fire a gun. I got my mom to write me a note to excuse me from the class because it was against my beliefs. That’s how anti-gun I was when I was 12 years old, so imagine what I’m like now. Yeah. But seriously, if it comes down to a cougar versus my cats, or God forbid, a cougar versus our as-yet-unconceived child? I’d totally be willing to use a gun, in a heartbeat. So now I have to make a decision about that. And the worry spiral continues. Fun! You know, I really like this house and all, but sometimes I miss apartment/city life. Oy.