One listless afternoon last week , I sat in the sun room thinking that I would never have anything else to write about. The Covid claustration had lasted almost as long as a pregnancy, and as happens with pregnancy my focus had turned progressively inward, until the external world had all but ceased to exist. Of course the external world is still around, but it is either off limits because of the virus risks, or so alarming and depressing (fires, floods, shootings, politics), that I simply shut it out.
No, there really was nothing to write about, and probably would never be. This was it: the well had run dry; I had sung my swan song. I was deep into a fantasy of life as a non-writer when my dog Bisou burst into the outraged bark that she reserves for the fox: “out of my yard, you weird-looking dog!” I had been missing the fox’s visits, which had grown rarer now that the spring’s young were on their own, so I got up to take a look.
There, just a couple of feet from the house and facing away from me was an odd-looking creature, larger than a squirrel but smaller than a fox. The back of its big ears was white rimmed with black. Its fur was tawny, its belly plump, its legs short, its tail stumpy. It was clearly an infant. But whose?
OMG, I should be taking photos! My phone was in the room somewhere, but like the apostles on Mount Tabor, I couldn’t bear to take my eyes off the apparition. I whispered to my spouse to come look. What could it be?
Then the little animal turned to face us and its white cheek tufts gave it away. As did its ultra-fierce, non-cuddly demeanor, its look that said, come near me and I’ll bite off your arm…or maybe your fingertip. And having delivered this threat, it toddled off into the undergrowth.
Where, I hope, the mother bobcat found it, gave it a good scolding (“you are NOT old enough to hunt squirrels, you hear?”) and took it home.
I haven’t seen any more bobcats, big or little, since that day, though a near neighbor tells me she has seen what I hope is the mother. But that infant on the prowl has been constantly on my mind. Sometimes I think I’ve dreamed him (or her). And a dozen times every day I look out the sun room windows, just in case he\’s come back (as if).
I feel grateful to Nature for sending me this writing prompt just in the nick of time, and for reminding me that the writer’s most important tool is neither intelligence nor inspiration, but the ability to pay attention. Colette wrote that her mother\’s greatest gift to her, what made her the writer she became, was the single word, \”Regarde!\” Everything starts with that.