My partner and I decided to treat ourselves to a day at our favorite lake in Mission, BC, Canada, about an hour’s drive from our house in the city.
We took in our surroundings, moving along with the undulating traffic along 12th Avenue. The thick air from the numerous wildfires sweeping our province was slowly dissipating; the mountains once again unveiling their stoic presence to us.
We took swift advantage of the canoe that was generously offered to us during our visit, and I suggested taking a casual escapade around the lake. The water’s surface was smooth as a two-way mirror, reflecting the slightly overcast sky above while granting us visionary access clear through to the bottom of the lake.
As we paddled lazily along, the sheer beauty of this placid body of water triggered a response not quite as serene: “Who the hell does Harper think he is, with his fat rat ego and greedy hands sweating in the pockets of the oil companies, threatening to destroy our lakes, rivers and entire eco-systems?”
Like so many of us, I was—and of course still am—disgusted, appalled and deeply affected by this awful government and its short-sighted, selfish decisions.
About half way into our short voyage, my partner quietly exclaimed, “There is a mountain lion… there, on that rock!”
My gaze followed his and stopped dead on the breath-stealing beauty and sheer capacity of the wild cat. It stood not more than 30 feet from us, and as it sized us up, I felt not in the least terrified, as one would perhaps expect. Instead, I was humbled at the sight of this impressive golden, muscular animal.
After returning home and revisiting the moment in my mind, I wrote poem titled “Catamount” to serve as a reminder of such humbling and rare occasions.
Thinking back to such a raw and supremely satisfying moment, I realized the only thing missing was Harper being devoured by either the lake or the cat. Perhaps one day.
We saw you yesterday
Our presence barely warranted in the wild
Yours considerably more so
It was as though you were always there, in that very spot.
I thought seeing you would be most frightening
Perhaps it would turn me to stone.
Instead I drank you down
Two warm fingers of brandy
Slow without the burn
Slow, slow like honey; the perfect shade of you.
I watched you hesitate, then soften
The white canoe on glass.
The air stopped moving for an immeasurable amount of time.
I could have bottled up the lake
In the transcendence of your gaze.
Realizing we were merely human
You retreated on measured haunches, wildly nonchalant,
Back toward the heavy cover of
Douglas fir and ponderosa pine.
We moved along silently,
Save paddles pushing water
And you cracking ground through the forest,
Farther and farther
from the oblivious shore.
Author: Terri Lynn Haines
Editor: Evan Yerburgh