Bobcat, Calero Creek Trail, San Jose, CA—Wiki commons pix
But I once surprised a caracal in the trashbin at dawn. And it surprised me. It rose up, impossibly slender like Baast, the Egyptian cat god, and looked me in the eye. We stood transfixed, then it melted into the morning fog.
I didn't know what it was other than an exotic cat—but I was taking a class at Sonoma State later that morning—so I sculpted it out of clay and Dorothy recognized it and we later identified it as the escaped African cat from the Forestville Preserve.
The rangers came to to see if they could find the escaped caracal—they said she was once someone's pet—declawed, and she was pretty hungry, but tame enough. I was struck how the caracal and the bobcat resembled each other in size.
The Ojai bobcat passed so close to us as we were sitting in the rental car (we had slowed down so I could take a photo of the lake), I could see into its golden eyes for one brief instant—as it crossed the highway to the lake for its evening drink.
The photo I never took. An American lynx, a Californian subspecies. My third sighting in a lifetime. That peculiar intersection of crossed paths and time— and for a moment, the day stood stock-still.