The Bobcat Whisperer
Since I went a few weeks without running, due to poison ivy and a 5,000-mile driving trip, it has taken a few days to resume my pace, and I have been walking more than running. This has not been a bad thing, since it has given me time to visit with people in the park.
The park is a friendly community of familiar strangers, who exchange smiles and waves. Several people say “Glad you’re back,” or “Good to see you again,” which I appreciate.
On the hottest days, I have started seeing a City employee on an all-terrain-vehicle, offering water to the cyclists, skaters, runners, and walkers, who are braving the heat.
(Today, I rescued someone myself. She ran out of water after walking almost ten miles, and I shared my water and stayed with her until her friend returned with more water.)
I also spent some time with a friendly cyclist, outfitted with plastic bags and rubber gloves, who was picking up litter all along the seven-mile trail.
Finally, I visited several times with the Bobcat Whisperer. It turns out that he had rehabilitated one of the bobcats and released her into the park last year. Since that time, he visits the park several times a week, checking on her and her offspring.
He knows all of the bobcats, and they know him. He calls them by name and they come. He spends hours talking with them and watching them (but never touching them) and, always, he worries if they are avoiding predators and eating well and managing the heat.
Almost 400,000 people live in this city, and over 6,500,000 people live in this region. Fewer than 50 cyclists and skaters and ten runners and walkers finish the trail each day.
Still, there are people there every day, taking care of the park, the people, and the animals, which is part of what I enjoy so much about this friendly community of familiar strangers.