David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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The Wild Cat

 

Sometime last October I noticed I was being robbed. It wasn’t a very significant theft; I feed the birds, and the suet I store for them on my porch in a garbage bag was disappearing. The bag had been slit open and chunks chewed out of the suet.

Early one morning I opened the porch door and caught the culprit in the act, though I didn’t see much of him as he departed in ten foot leaps through the snow and disappeared through the trees. Clearly, it was a cat, gone wild.

I hung the suet up, but the cat climbed the wall and ate it anyway.

There are several ways to deal with animals you don’t want around your place and I have a very accurate rifle, which is one way of handling the problem.

But one day I surprised the wild cat on the porch and for a few moments we had eye to eye contact. I don’t know what it thought of me, but for the first time I had a good look at it, and it changed my mind about how I was going to deal with it.

It’s a pure black, long-haired cat, weighing about nine pounds, I’d guess.  Its fur is matted, and it’s not fat, but it has wonderful, bright yellow eyes. Most of all, it’s wild. It looked at me, not to see whether I might be a friend, but only to see how formidable an enemy I might be.  The day was bitter cold and clearly it was hungry; only real hunger could have driven it to approach in broad daylight where it was obviously not wanted.  Finally, I moved, and it left in great bounds through the woods.

Shortly after that, I began to leave dry cat food on the porch, and the cat now comes every two days, only at night, and eats every crumb.  I suspect it comes at the same time, but I have never actually seen it; only its tracks in the snow are proof it’s the wild cat and not some other animal.

The obvious question is, why have I changed from vengeance seeker to feeder of this wild cat? Probably it’s because the cat is a symbol of life in the mountains in the latter half of the 20th century, and I can’t harm such a symbol.  I have much admiration for the spirit of life in this animal, at one time no doubt a domesticated and pampered pet.  Then, abandoned, it could have lain down and died.  But it had a brain and a desire to live.  So in spite of dogs which run loose and in packs, and numerous other predators, including man, the wild cat has survived.  It has survived in a totally alien environment, in one of the worst winters in memory.  How can one fail to admire the sheer courage of such an animal?

We see it more frequently now, and with the coming of spring it does not always clean its bowl.  In a few weeks the field mice will become available. I may not see the wild cat until next winter.  Even then, we will not have a real friendship, I suspect, although if we both live long enough, perhaps it will one day come to trust me.

Even if we never become friends, I will count it a privilege to have known it and to have contributed to its well being.  It has taught me something precious about survival in a dangerous age.

 

 

Columns

© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:

Introduction

Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]

Electricity

Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]

Hiking

Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders

Elevators

The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]

Visitors

Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird

Garbage

A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]

Weather

Fences

Commuting

Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac

June

Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer

Visitors

Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon

“Whiteout”

The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley

Infestations

On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]

Walking

Rumors About a Visit by the Pope

Progress?

More About Fences

Woodpeckers

The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government

Risks

Airports

Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke

 

The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983

Carpentry

Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House

Waving

The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?

Dogs

Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving

Garbage

Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”

Spring

An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins

Summer

The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI

 

 

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