Dry bed just south of the Rio Puerco.
North of Abiquiu, New Mexico.
The bumpy little dirt road beside this creek bed is one of my favorite explorations. As you leave the highway and wind down the hillside beside this dry gulch, the road hugs a one-story rock cliff on the right. Chamisa, junipers and the odd chollo grow thick along the creek bed. The road, clearly defined by cliff and dried vegetation, is just wide enough for my car!
Early one Sunday morning along this road, I paused to watch a large red-tailed hawk hunting on the mesa. In that instant, a cougar leaped off the rock cliff into the road bed just in front of my car. She paused just long enough to make eye contact with me (a sign of no fear!) and gracefully loped through the grasses and up the creek bed.
That small instance of being so close to her, having her acknowledge my existence on the planet, and watching her disappear into the landscape again — that tiny instance of time is the most vivid and wonderful memory! Every time I return to Northern New Mexico, I head for this little road and pause at the spot of our encounter, calling, “Here, kitty kitty!” Waiting. Watching. Hoping. Waiting some more.
Always I see her foot prints in the soft sand of the dry creek. About six-inches across the span. The same shape as my own cats’ prints on the windshield of my car. Big kitty.