Throughout my youth, we had half a dozen or so farm dogs. They helped herd cattle and kept me company on the hundreds of acres I roamed everyday. The terrain was harsh, jagged rocks, deep ravines, steep bluffs, rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, brown recluses, black widows, black bears, and the most formidable: mountain lions.

To hear a mountain lions’ call in the wild is unnerving at best. It’s a wild, maniacal scream that makes the hair on your neck stand up. While cutting wood for our stoves one fall afternoon, Dad saw what he describes to this day as “a scene from a Disney movie.” As the sun began setting behind the hill a mountain lion appeared. Queen, our blue healer, circled around the cat. Dad watched as Queen lead the the wild animal along the top of the ridge, both animals moving at full throttle. Dad came back to the house and somberly explained why my dog would not be coming home.

Three days later Queen showed up without a scratch. To this day we don’t know how she evaded that cat, but she was home again.

I often think of the land I grew up on. I often say that my best friend growing up was hundreds of acres, trees, hills, ponds, and creeks. I am a social being, always have been, but the joy of that solitude and peace is indescribable and I miss it. I wonder what parts of me come directly from my time on that plot of dirt, or who I would be without it.

-Mountain Machine

The trees fell to their knees, and offered the world to me.”