Puma, Cougar, Panther

They call them mountain lions here in California. I was surprised to read on NextDoor that one was lounging in someone’s yard – for a half hour – not far from our house. Why didn’t the observer call animal control? In the past 4 1/2 years we’ve lived here, no mountain lions have previously been reported in The Point. It made me laugh at myself. I’d been wondering how my life could be any worse than being confined indoors day after day because of the smoke and it would have been worse if I’d gone on my walk and encountered an unfriendly mountain lion. S/he was lounging by a house in the middle of my walking route.

I am especially wary of mountain lions because I have such a strong attraction to them. I can’t control my wanting to see one in the wild. I sometimes fear this will attract one to me. This, what is it, obsession, started back on the East Coast. I was living in Maine and went to a Shamanic workshop one weekend. It was sponsored by Michael Harner’s Foundation for Shamanic Studies. We were introduced to core shamanism and shamanic journeying. On the last day, Dana, our teacher, asked if anyone would like him to retrieve their “power animal.” He only wanted two volunteers but more than that were interested so he had a private chat with each of us to inquire why we were interested.  I told him I was in chemotherapy for a recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease, stage four this time, and he selected me. I remember only the drumming. Afterwards he told me that my power animal was a mountain lion. I didn’t even know there were any of the animals in the United States, didn’t know they were also called pumas or cougars or panthers. I haven’t had Hodgkin’s disease again. Was that the cure or a contributing factor? How and why do some people heal, recover, and some don’t when they are receiving the same medical treatment? I don’t know.

After we moved to California, it was a surprise to learn that mountain lions are all over the place out here – close by. Each year one or more is spotted on the Lab property in the Berkeley Hills. They put up sandwich board warning signs at all of the entrances. It concerned me in the winter when it was dark well before 5pm. I’d walk down the sidewalk warily to the shuttle stop, relieved to join the group of waiting passengers.

Let me clarify my vision. I would really like to see a mountain lion in the wild when I am in the car with the windows rolled up!

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