Big descent

September 23, 2022 Comments Off on Big descent

One of the biggest climbs in California is right near my front door. It’s the 8-mile climb up the 155 from Wofford Heights to Alta Sierra. It is such a miserable climb that I have only done it a dozen or so times.

But the crazy part is the descent. You hit the 40’s, 50’s, and low sixties in seconds. Disc brakes overheat, and the turns, if overcooked, are lethal. As much as I dislike the up, I dislike the down even more.

The other day I descended and felt pleased that I had again failed to crash or die. Back at home I sat down on the porch and soaked in a little post-ride self-satisfaction.

That’s when I saw him, a little gray-and-white cat just barely out of his kittenhood, scrawny and stringy and hungry with the rail-like appetite that comes when you’re on the edge of starvation. He was feral and he coiled in the dirt for a minute, eyes on a pair of mourning doves pecking at the ground.

Unlike our fat housecat Pepper, who the birds completely ignore, this one had their undivided attention. He made an ineffectual pounce and they flew away. He slunk down the hill out of view while the jays and finches continued eating from the feeder. One jay sat on a branch looking towards the house.

At that moment the cat leaped up from behind the little bluff, a solid four-foot jump, lanced the jay with his claws and pulled him off the branch. It happened so quickly I barely registered it. With dinner secured the cat carried the bird down the hill to eat it.

I felt sorry for the jay and sorry for the cat. And I thought about the cunning and skill of the little feline. Failure meant no food for an animal already running on empty. My amazing descent down the hill didn’t seem so impressive anymore.



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