As I remember it, the bear bee-lined it over a nearby hill and out of sight like a cartoon road-runner. And the dog, bless his golden heart, commenced barking then as if he –– and only he –– had saved us from the danger. Perhaps he had.
"There's a path here," Sarah announced from a dozen feet ahead of me.
It was: a narrow strip of clear ground, the hard dirt not holding prints. "Game-trail," I agreed, savoring the tough, Land-Rover flavor of the word.
Twenty feet farther, I stopped to admire the tenacity of a tree growing out of the rock. Sarah was peering around. A gamey, musky scent hung in the air.
"It smells funky," she said.
"It smells like carnivore," I said, inhaling a big sniff. I turned downhill. "Maybe it's a bear."
My sister laughed, and then took a few more steps along the game-trail. "Ooh, do you see this?" she said, and then, noticing that she'd gotten into burrs, she began plucking at her fleece jacket.
"See what?" I called over my shoulder as I navigated down the rocky slope.
"A hole in the rocks," she said, tsking and plucking at her sleeve. "And it really stinks!"
"Sis, why don't you come down here? Like, now."
Catching something in my tone, she looked up from the sticker-burrs.
I found myself speaking carefully, "Maybe. It's. A. Bobcat."
Our sainted Mumsie used to say that it wasn't so much "Fight or Flight" as a response after she'd reached a certain age, but "Pee and Flee." This was one of the thoughts that flitted through my mind as I watched my sister back away from whatever she'd nearly stumbled into and then scramble downhill to me.
"You could've told me you were getting out of there," she said.
"I didn't think I needed to," I answered.