Of all the positive things about living alone in the mountains, I like the solitude best. No traffic. No neighbors. No annoyances. Only the sounds of nature which, at first, were disturbingly new to me.
In the bleak blackness of night it is admittedly unnerving to hear strange, unearthly sounds echoing through the distance - - coming from every direction, blending together in a great, haunted cacophony. Coyotes, wild dogs, wolves, owls. Even the cows and horses - which inhabit distant neighboring meadows - contribute to the great nocturnal symphony.
I've had some well-intentioned people (who've never been here) try to reassure me with unsubstantiated facts.
There are no wolves or bears in your area.
The animals indigenous to your area don't come out at night.
Don't come out at night? Are you frickin' kidding???
I'm no longer intimidated by these nightly sounds. In fact, I often go outside to listen, absorb, and ponder. Tonight is far too cold for an extended sojourn (it's 7 degrees), but I was out for a few minutes.
As I gazed towards the sightless forest, I suddenly remembered something that happened long ago in the wilderness of the Nevada mountains. I hadn't thought about it in a very long time - - but tonight I recalled it with humor.
There's a long preface to the story, but I'll try my best to condense it:
Southern California. I'm twenty-one years old and living in Hollywood. My parents, who reside in Anaheim, are having serious marital difficulties. My mother is considering getting a divorce. She left my father that summer and got an apartment in Reno, Nevada.
In September, I drove up to Reno to visit my Mom and wound up staying a few weeks. In the meantime Dad found out where she was and convinced her to come home. She reluctantly acquiesced.
Let's cut to the chase and get to the good part.
Mom and I left Reno for Southern California on a cold, early October evening. She drove her car and I followed in mine.
Somewhere along the way - in the middle of the night, in the middle of the mountainous Nevada wilderness - I had to pee. I suppressed the urge for about an hour, but finally couldn't hold it any longer.
I repeatedly blinked my headlights, signaling that I was going to stop. We pulled over to the side of the road.
"I gotta pee!" I said, and bounded off into the nearby darkness.
As I was in the very midst of blissful release, I heard my Mom yelling "Get in the car! Get in the car!"
I looked up and saw an alarmingly close pair of glowing yellow eyes. They were staring right at me.
"Mountain lion!" Mom was yelling.
Without zipping my fly or tucking in my manhood, I dashed to my car and scrambled inside. I had left my headlights on and - without a doubt - a mountain lion darted by and disappeared into the darkness.
We didn't stop again for at least fifteen miles. When we did stop, the first thing Mom said was "The mountain lion was right by you! I couldn't believe it!"
Why it didn't attack is beyond my comprehension. The possibility that I have a guardian angel is remote.
Perhaps the sight of me in the process of frantic urination was a sufficient deterrent.
All I know is, from that moment on, I've always been extremely cautious and meticulously alert when peeing in the wilderness.