Just Another Fall Day in the Humboldt Hills

Here, in the hills of Humboldt, I am watching the maples hold the excess summer sunlight until they grow too heavy with liquid gold and fall in heaps of treasure on the ground.

Here, the squirrels live in fear of Sleeker, my small semi-domestic black puma. Sleeker lives to hunt and no squirrel dares to come close to the house. But when I walk up the dirt road through the oaks and bays that line our long driveway, they slip out on branches to stare. And Sleeker who follows me, not like a pet dog on a walk but like predator tracking its prey, pretends not to notice. But, if one dares to dart down among the leaves on the ground, she shoots forward, a black streak scattering gold. As yet the squirrels have escaped panting onto the highest branches and Sleeker in a frenzy attacks the leaves, throwing them in the air and twisting her body in acrobatic shapes trying to catch them.

Or, perhaps, she is communicating through savage dance how squirrels should fear her.

And eyes wide and gray breasts heaving, they do.



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