Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mountain Mud








My wife was out this morning. So naturally, the kids and I stripped down, ran out to the garden, dug a hole, and played mud pit.







Saturday, March 22, 2008

Casa de Los Gatos

Dark tonight here in the mountains. Bats wing their way past the windows, eating the moths drawn to the lights of our windows.

Deer have been in the garden most of today. It's a high-fenced garden, with a play structure for the kids, but the gate was left open--our landlord has been showing the place to other potential renters, since we've decided to stay here in the mountains and have bought a place a few miles down the San Andreas faultline, as the raven flies. The deer get in there and help themselves, and look startled when we come out onto the deck and they have to walk our way to let themselves out. They have a careful, high-stepping gait. And they watch us with each step to see what we'll do as they come closer, closer, until they're out and then they're up the path they've cut behind the fence that takes them up the ridge and gone. For awhile, anyway. The gate's not open often and they're making the most of their time there, even though they do look something like a mountain lion's buffet. Tomorrow I'll close it. Today, we'll just watch them watching us and eating grass.

No sightings of the lion in the last few weeks, though we've watched for it and walked the road, looking for tracks. Either it's off to another temporary home or has gone to ground, somewhere up on this high ridgeline. We have found an actual house of cats, tho. I'm tempted to call the Casa de Los Gatos; it sits on the ridge just to the south west of us, where on the far side is a whole exposed series of white rock dramatic enough to be named just that on maps. Just this side of the white rocks is the house of Kirk, who plays piano, and Anna, who has a wonderfully dystopic view of mountain life, both of whom have one of the most incredible and panoramic views of Monterey Bay and the wider ocean off beyond Santa Cruz. Just down from their property is the land of 'The Australians', as they're known by the people on and around Bear Mountain, and it's on the section of the ridgeline that belongs to The Australians where you'll find the Casa, along with a covered firepit and a high rope swing. It's a playhouse, really--plastic walled and plastic roofed and some clear translucent stuff for windows that's probably plastic again. Inside are the cats.

The Australians don't live on their land--only their animals are in residence. There are three cats in the house, last we checked, and there are food bowls and some sort of water supply. And all of the cats seemed fat and anxious for attention, and we had to wonder--what do they do in the torrential rains that sweep through here sometimes? Was the shade enough to keep off the noon sun? When will the food run out, and how soon would The Australians be back with more? Anna confesses to having fed them, and I think finds them occasional visitors when the Casa door is left open, and the cats emerge.

The mystery of the Australians is deeper than that, though. For a time, there was a goat penned up on the land--Skyler and I saw it ourselves. And then, rather suddenly, the goat was gone. There are horses there, too, or at least there were--at last look there was one remaining, rather thin, in a crazily-angled pen on the steep side of the hill. And Anna tells a story of driving up the road toward their house just this side of the white rocks and finding a baby in the road. A human one, I believe, and shortly claimed by it's pack, yet it leads you to speculate: how long would it have been left there? Could it have taken up a space with the cats?