Monday, June 24, 2013

Lions and Tigers and ... Panthers? Oh My!

My little cardinal friend –NOT – woke me again this morning before 6 AM. I forgot to mention the cardinal to the relatives who were house sitting on the weekend. Oops. Sorry about that. He was still bouncing off the windows (the bird not the relative) when we returned home.

Often people ask where writers come up with their stories. Well, my friends, stories are everywhere. On our drive home, I spotted a bouquet of flowers on a vacant bench. Now, that’s a story in the making. A mystery. Of course, it would involve murder because that’s my genre of late.

Near home, another mystery presented itself. On Camlachie Road, between the 402 overpass and Michigan Line, something leaped from the ditch and ran across the road in front of our vehicle. What was THAT? We couldn’t believe our eyes. My husband, never one to encourage my imagination – it can be scary living with someone who creates murder and mayhem on a daily basis – said he didn’t know and tried to leave it at that.

I'm not one to let something go. I knew what it looked like but come on, we’re in Southernwestern Ontario. I kept thinking of the pole-like tail. How long and straight it was when the animal was running. Running very fast, I might add. A cat’s tail. Cat’s ears and face. No, it’s impossible, I thought. The sleek body was a muddy grey-brown colour. It was big.

Unlike the bench and bouquet earlier in our drive, my imagination was not churning. I was too puzzled about this animal to be ‘writing’ a story. When I got home, I immediately searched the internet and discovered there had been other panther or cougar sightings in Lambton County within the past three years. It seemed too incredible to be true.

I did what anyone else would do. I posted it on facebook. The only comment was to question if I got a picture of it. I couldn’t tell if they were snickering but since that was the only comment on my posting, I assumed no one believed me.

Of course, there was no picture. My cell phone was in my purse. Besides, I was leaning forward on the seat with my eyes and mouth wide open. I can’t say that I didn’t think of taking a picture, but I knew there was no time. He was moving as fast as ... well, a panther, I suppose.

Now, coyotes are common in our area. We saw one once in the field behind our house. At night, we often hear them yipping in the distance. Sometimes, they venture closer. One night a pack of them was outside our bedroom window. My heart pounded. Their blood-curdling yodelling was incredibly loud and TOO CLOSE.

Our dog ran – no, she slunk with her tail between her legs – out of the bedroom. After the coyotes left, I found her huddled in a corner of the living room. Since then, if Lex refuses to go outside at night, I never force her. Dogs sense danger long before humans. I trust her instincts.

Another night, my husband heard the coyotes lapping water from our fountain. He turned on the outside lights. They disappeared fast.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the morning we discovered a herd of horses in our front yard. Another story for another time. Yes, my friends, stories are everywhere for writers.

So, in addition to coyotes and horses, and I've blogged about the skunks, we now have panthers. And a cardinal − let’s not forget the nuisance cardinal who drives me insane with her incessant attack on the windows.

Gotta love country living.




  1. Southernwestern Ontario's Wild Kingdom. They have motion detecting cameras. Who knows what else it might catch in the area.

    1. Terry, I'm sure there's a lot of wild life in the country fields. Maybe not all the four-legged variety. :)