EVEN WITH A CAMERA, even if I’d been ready, I could not have caught it. Would not have been quick enough to begin to follow the black streak across the snow. It was simply too fast. Way too fast.
Here’s the story. A pine limb had fallen in the yard during the last snow/ice storm. I decided it was time to cut and remove it. I headed out to the garage to get the chainsaw, Forest-Kitten-Koda following along as he so often does. I opened the garage door. “Koda,” I said, “you’re not going to like this. You’d better go back to the cabin or do something else.” Koda did not. Instead he watched me grab the chainsaw and uncase it, then followed me through the yard and out to the fallen limb. He scratched and sharpened his claws on it.
“Koda,” I said, “this is really loud and you won’t like it. Now go on.” Koda did not go on. I primed the chain saw. Gave a couple of ineffectual pulls on the starting rope. Koda watched. I pulled once more and the saw roared to life. Whined and screamed and roared to life. And Koda-The-Forest-Kitten was GONE. I glimpsed the black streak out of the corner of my eye, flashing, leaping across the snow in great bounds. Fast but low to the ground, ears flat, front legs stretched out like the iconic jaguar on the hood of the classic car, rear legs and haunches gathering up and powering the streak forward again and again. From the limb and across the yard, barely touching the snow, to the path we follow to feed the birds every morning, skidding into a high-powered left turn and then down the path to the deck, across the deck to the far side in perhaps 3 final bounds, too fast to count.
And then under the bench, in a low crouch, green eyes blazing, visible even across the yard, watching to see if Dad was going to be devoured by this new, small but horrifying monster, clearly worse than either the vacuum cleaner or the snow-blower. But Dad was not devoured. He simply cut up the limb and disposed of it. Then came over to the deck—seemingly O.K.
And Koda-The-Forest-Kitten was O.K. too. He’d never really been scared in the first place, of course. Not a bit.