Ah, Youth!

July 24th, 2016 16 Comments

Bobcat 018 (Small)

I’ve been writing almost exclusively about books and politics and Second Amendment issues lately and much of that is due to the aftereffects of the horse wreck, my not being able to do some of the things I used to do outside.

One of the things I used to do that I do not miss in the slightest is weed whacking the critical areas around the property that must be cleared in case of fire. Fire is an ever-present danger in these mountains, and clearing one’s property is required by both law and common sense. Behind our house the hill rises steeply and weed whacking is limited by natural obstacles: a property boundary fence here, boulders there, a sudden rise in incline in this area, more boulders in that area, a natural cut, trees… You get the picture. The men I hired to do what I used to do followed pretty much the same boundaries I would have followed: above that area the weeds are dangerously thick this year; below it, everything is cut down to the dirt.

So I was standing with my back to the window, talking to my bride, when she suddenly yelped and pointed out at the hill. For a moment, what I thought I saw was one of our ridiculously overly-domesticated and overly-pampered indoor-only cats trotting across the cleared area. Then I realized it was a bobcat kitten. (Not the bobcat in the photo above; that one is a fully grown bobcat, with attitude, and in a bad mood.)

Not a kitten exactly, as much as barely an adolescent, a very young bobcat hovering in that awkward stage between childhood and adulthood. He had probably only within the last week been kicked out of the house for talking back to his mother and he was now boldly exploring his world with no thought to either danger or his next meal. There are ground squirrels galore in the boulders back there—I have been shooting them with monotonous regularly, but every time you kill one, twenty more come to the funeral—but no bobcat ever caught a ground squirrel by trotting blithely along in the open.

We watched him trot up at an angle to the base of one of the groups of boulders where he threw himself down on his back in a dusty spot and wriggled as hard and as thoroughly as he could. I know what he was doing was taking a dust bath to discourage fleas, but something about the way he did it, the youthful energy, the joie de vivre, the quality of making even a necessary toilette something of a game, made my wife and me both laugh. And when he got up, he didn’t just “get up;” he bounced up, shook himself vigorously, and vanished into the long weeds above.

That youthful exuberance reminded me of a boy I knew half a century ago, a boy whose boundless energy and sheer joy of living in his own healthy body used to make both his parents alternately laugh and tear out their hair. Unlike Mama Bobcat, they were patient and forbearing enough not to throw me out on my own.

I wish that young bobcat well.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What a fun light-hearted story! Perfect read about youth, as I celebrate becoming one year older (and wiser) today. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    It would be good to be that young again where you didn’t really have to give as much concern to the consequences of your actions or of what might come next.

    Wondering why you shoot the squirrels. I know many around here threaten because of worries over wiring and such but shooting isn’t allowed.
    Nancy Darlene

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nature is certainly grand. Thanks for sharing what’s going on in your world. Glad you and the Mrs. are able to enjoy it.

    And it is nice to read and ponder something else besides the depressing news of politics and the never-ending war against the Constitution (though I do enjoy reading your writing on it just the same).

    Take care,


  4. Anonymous says:

    Don’t try to explain the 1970s to a millennial.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I went on a vacation to Washington DC. As part of the vacation we took a bus tour of the city. While waiting for the evening tour a young man came up to us and started to talk to us. He must have been about 18 and was wearing a Bob Dylan Tee shirt. He started asking us a bunch of questions about the 1970s. I ended up explaining Jimmy Carter and the gas embargo. My husband said that when he was 18 the gas prices where 34 cents a gallon.You should have seen the look on the young man’s face. He then said that we must have been hippies or something. I told him no because in the sixties I was in grade school. We answered some other questions until the time of the tour. I found the whole thing amusing, but I did start to feel like my dad when he was trying to explain the Great Depression to us. Try telling younger people that there were on such thing as cellphones, cable or color TVs. Even home computers didn’t exist.

  6. Anonymous says:

    i have mixed feeling about being young again. It would be nice to be skinny again. I could do without the arthritis that I have. There are some things however that I would not want to go through again for all the money in the world. I was abused as a child and bullied by other children. As a teenager I was constantly bullied and at one point I thought about killing myself. High school was like being in the ninth level of hell for me and there is no way I would want to repeat that experience. Some parts of my life are much better now then when I was younger.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing that wonderful story…it’s so nice to about a more relaxed
    way of life instead of the fast pace of today…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Love your writing, although I am done with anything political. Also, I hope that your home and property are safe from the current fires in the LA area.

  9. Anonymous says:

    JP what an adorable picture !! That warms my heart !

    Tena French Halifax NS Canada

  10. Anonymous says:

    J’aime regarder de jeunes animaux. Ils sont facétieux, s’amusent avec peu de choses et semblent tellement insouciants !!!!
    Je me souviens d’un automne où je ramassais les feuilles tombées dans mon jardin. Je venais d’adopter mon petit chien et elle n’était âgée que de quelques mois. Elle s’amusait à se jeter dans le tas de feuilles jusqu’à ce qu’elle disparaisse. Et lorsque sa petite tête réapparaissait, on avait l’impression qu’elle souriait !!!!
    Il faut profiter au maximum de ces petits moments de bonheur qui nous rappelle que la vie est belle !!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    hehe thanks for giving me some great laughs! You should and could write more about this kind of stuff, I’m tired of 24h bad news over here.
    Greetings from Germany

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is always fascinating to me to read about people who have felt healthy during their lifetime, and been able to craft their bodies into something that they feel comfortable in and that serves them well. I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. My body has always literally viewed itself as the enemy. I am almost 50, was an overall unhealthy, plump, non-energetic child, was told in my twenties that I likely had an autoimmune disease, and diagnosed definitively in my thirties with an autoimmune disease. Currently being tested for others because I continue to decline. I’m actually eating various parts of myself alive. I’ve always hated exercise, not because of the concept, but because I’ve never been able to do it. Since childhood I always wished I was energetic and agile. I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. I had to settle for thoughtful only.

    One of the advantages of never being well is that I’ll never miss the fitness of youth as I become older yet. – Michele

  13. Anonymous says:

    Enjoyed the writing, as well as the responses.

    We live near the foothills of the Ozarks, in Arkansas and had a delightful (for us) encounter with a black bear. He was not impressed with our Chihuahua, and climb one of our oak trees. Our sightings of deer is almost daily, which is a wonderful break from this crazy world.

    Keep writing! It is appreciated!!

    Mary Ellen

  14. Anonymous says:

    …..couldn’t respond on the previous post for some reason–gettin’ in on it too late? I did want to mention to T. D. Bauer(if you didn’t already know it T. D.) that there is a good Merchant Ivory film about the Thugees(with Pierce Brosnan) titled “The Deceivers”–available on DVD, but NOT cheap(alas)….And also on that last post– perhaps what the French leader SHOULD have said(and be thinking), is that France(and ALL of us!!!) should be more AWARE of potential terrorism, and be ready to respond/defend ourselves. That’s what I would have recommended as a French politician, and DO recommend as an American peasant citizen!…..and YES, the bobcat teenager, a nice, homespun interlude–we ALL needed that–like Voltaire’s “Candide”–just tend the garden, Dr. Pangloss! Regarding youth, there is that saying(which I certainly have adhered to, lo, these many decades!)–“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is NOT!” Having young animals and/or people around help keep us oldsters young-at-heart! Speaking of which, I think it was Stephen King, in an interview, was asked about his youthful outlook–he said “I have the heart of a child…..(pause)…..I keep it in a jar on my desk!”….L. B.

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