Last night I was driving home at about 10PM (Yes I am back on the road now thanks to the NC DMV and my friend Lucy who so kindly let me borrow her car while she is away) I had just turned onto our dirt 1/2 mile road when I spotted the two animals in my path. One was an opossum and the other a small bobcat (It looked a lot like this). It took me a second to figure out what was going on- aren't those moments strange when a second lasts so much longer than a regular second? Where somehow even though it is only a second you have the time to think: What am I looking at?...*pause* Is that what I think it is??? *pause*......... OH! it IS.....
I stopped the car about 15 feet away from them; I turned off the radio but didn't dim my high beams.The bobcat stopped what it was doing and looked toward the car unsure. After a short pause it resumed it's interaction with the opossum though. Which by now I realized the opossum was in VERY rough shape. It was missing a baseball size chunk of skin and body from the nape of it's neck. All things considered though, the opossum was putting up a pretty good resistance. It wasn't being super nasty (I have seen a nasty, hissing opossum before) it just was trying to hold it's ground. The bobcat had a blood moustache...The bobcat would grab the open wound and bite at it until the opossum twisted away. Then the cat would step back and try a new angle. This went on for a good 10 mins with Lili snoring in the backseat and me with my mouth literally hanging open in the driver's seat.
Bobcats are fairly common all over the country but it still feels like an honor to see one. But to see one in action this close for so long felt special. The death of the prey was inevitable, but it was SLOW. The opossum wasn't going to just drop down and be eaten. At one point the opossum broke free and came teetering toward my car. I had to back up to give it room. The bobcat pounced after it playfully making me realize it was a young bobcat.Typically bobcat's are about 2 to 3 times a domestic house cat. This one was just slightly bigger than our fat domestic cat. Only it had longer legs, bigger paws, and ear tufts.
On one hand I felt frozen in place watching this unfold. I was thinking how this act of survival was both beautiful and yet slowly horrific too. It almost seemed like a conversation or a dance between the them. But it seemed secret, and I was left wondering if it was rude to be so invasive with my high beams so glaring on them?
On the other hand I was in absolute awe. Here I was, driving down my road~ listening to NPR and feeling so normal, and then out of the blue I witnessed this small act of life at it's core.
Under the brilliant starry sky last night, after I had driven on and went home to fill my fridge with groceries, that bobcat finished killing and ate the opossum I am sure.

This morning Lili and I took a walk to the spot where I saw it happen. I thought there would be a big bloody mess and maybe if I was lucky some paw prints in the mud. But when I got there I had search and search for the tiniest clue. In the end all I found was one clump of bloodied leaves...

1 comment:

Adam said...

That is magical and sad and wonderful. Things like that help remind us that other things live here and do their thing, too.

I love bobcats because of their little ear things.