Linnie Aikens Arts and Letters • HeART Haven Studios

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Mufassa’s Big Adventure-Calaveras County, CA

This entry also could be named, “Mufassa Risks Life and Limb to Protect His Master by Fighting Off an Eagle and Wrestling 2 Mountain Lions With His Bare Paws.” ... or condensed, “Mufassa Shows Mountain Lions Who Is really Lion King.”   At least, I’m sure that would be HIS version if he could talk!  He’s been pretty impossible to live with since!!  :-)


MY version goes like this:  My uncle, who teaches firearms instruction and safety, among other top secret responsibilities, decided that my parents, my sisters, my kung fu buddies and my dear friend firearms safety instructor were all correct.  If I’m going to travel alone, Kung Fu was good for self defense, but I really had to learn to shoot too.  Can’t believe I finally surrendered, but I was surrounded on all sides. 


All of this took place last night.


Knowing that my Lion King, Mufassa, hides under the bed when I turn on the vacuum cleaner, I shut him in my room so he wouldn’t get scared. (He’d say it was just that he was protecting his sensitive ears, of course, which I totally respect!)  My uncle was teaching me with a 22 caliber, since it was my first time since my parents taught me when I was 8 or 9 or so.  22’s are a pretty light load and pretty quiet, considering.  So I thought since I had protective noise silences on my ears. (Are they still called earphones if you don’t listen to music on them?!)  It was only when I was done at 5:30 pm, that I realized Mufassa had escaped.


After checking under all of the beds, sofas, house, in the barn, woodshed, well house, etc.  the three of us then spread out and covered the 20 acres of dried grass and berry brambles...four times.  Up until this point I’d avoided that field because I knew it was filled with little “wooly buggers,” tiny oval stickers that work themselves right up to sit against your skin.  My uncle had named them that when my cousins were tiny.  The name stuck.  They’re a country nightmare.  Last night I didn’t think twice about plowing through those fields in my nice (and newish) black knit pants.  All I could think is that the Moofball would be covered in them to the point where he couldn’t move, probably hovering scared under a thorny blackberry bramble.  Nightmare heaped upon nightmare...AND the night was darkening quickly.  We drove up and down every side road and beyond calling.  I kept looking at the sun sinking lower and lower until it went out of sight and feeling the panic rising, but I couldn’t let myself cry.  I had to find him and crying wouldn’t help!


Four hours.  It was 9:30 pm.  It was dark.  Really dark.  My little Moofers would be so scared I kept thinking.  My uncle and I had just finished making posters to hang up when I decided to make one more loop through the fields.  My aunt took the truck out one more time and met me at the front gate.  It was then that we noticed two sets of headlights out by the mailboxes.  In an area like that mailboxes for the ranches might be 2-3 blocks lengths away in a centralized location.  My aunt and I looked at each other, the same hope running through our minds but too afraid to speak and jinx it.  We headed that way.  My mild mannered aunt, who is like a sweet version of Harriet (of Ozzie and Harriet---I know, showing my age here), is NOT what you’d call a meek nor sedate driver.  She and my mother are of the same mind in this!  30 years ago, when they built the ranch house, everyone cleared off the dirt roads when one of them was driving!  


Anyway, she hauls a -- -- out of the drive, wheels spitting sandstone and quartz gravel, and squeals to a stop practically on the bumper of what turned out to be another old beat up ford pickup.  White of course!  (There’s some saying about men in white ford pickups...but I can’t remember...)  My eyes wide with more than the fear of my lost pup, I watch as she hops down the 3 feet to the ground and squares off with this giant mountain man in a plaid shirt (with the sleeves torn off at the shoulders of course), all tatted up, long hair in a pony tale and dirty baseball cap.  “Oh no!,” I’m thinking, “He’s going to pulverize her!”  What came out of his mouth was, “Ya don’t happen to be lookin’ for a little dog now, would ya?”  At our frantic nods, he grins wide and points to the front of his truck.  “He’s right in front of me.”  


I shot out of the truck, leaping the 3 feet as if I were on springs, and raced the to front of his truck.  No Mufassa.  I called again.  Nothing.  I called again, and a movement in the grass, just outside the beam of headlights, catches my eye.  I call again, and the grass on the shoulder of the road moves again.   Almost in slow motion, here comes Mufassa, walking slowly, so stiff legged and sad looking that even the man felt sorry for him (and I’m sure he wasn’t much of a frou frou dog appreciater none either!)  My aunt picked him up and handed him to me.  The dam broke and all the tears and fears I’d had just could not be contained!  


I spent the next two hours cutting out all of the little wooly buggers from his coat.  I filled up an entire serving bowl, he was so completely covered in them!  Little Moofers was so full of ticks and stickers that they couldn’t be brushed out, so I had to use a tweezers to twist off the big red ticks and small scissors and cut each and every one of those out, while my aunt praised his bravery and pampered him with little bitty chicken hot dog pieces.  She refused to go to bed until we had him comfortable again!   Poor little guy was shorn but comfy and tired by the time we made it to bed.


My aunt and uncle were INCREDIBLY loving to both me and Mufassa!


So what about the mountain lions, you ask?  Well, I didn’t know about those until AFTER we found him.  My aunt said that while she was out looking at 6:30 pm, she ran into the game warden up on the road where we found Mufassa.  Turns out there had been numerous sitings of not one but TWO mountain lions just two houses back from us.  She hadn’t wanted to tell me earlier, but that explained why she was acting even more frantic than I was feeling!  She said, “You were so worried about him being carried off by the eagles or red tailed hawk, or even the huge barn owl, that I just couldn’t tell you about the mountain lions!”


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