Today is gorgeous. Absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous. The kind of weather that makes you want to inhale as deeply as you can and relish being alive.

I decided to take my walk after lunch today instead of late afternoon, as is my norm. I had raked pine needles while the girls lunched on the porch between lessons and I simply couldn't go back inside.

I either take the trails behind our house on my daily walk or I enjoy the meandering, hilly streets of our neighborhood. Today I opted for the streets. Many were out working in their yards as I passed and I waved, as usual. One man in particular had 20 or so bags of pine needles he had collected. I commented on working the same job just this morning and we chatted as I passed by his rocky landscape. But then he added to the conversation, "Hey, you know there is a mountain lion right over there, right?"

"Um, behind me?" I asked casually, trying to not totally flip out.

"Yeah, there behind Dave's house," motioning across the street.

"Oh. No, I didn't." I was calm.  I was collected.  I dared not turn around and look.

"You need to be really careful out here this time of year."

And so begins the waking of our forest.  And my walking with a stick.   Is it shameful to carry pepper spray around your neighborhood?