Monday, June 27, 2011

Bobcat hunts gopher: a video

Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

My Tai Chi teacher of more than 26 years, Lenzie Williams, hosts a workshop each June at Walker Creek Ranch, an outdoor school and conference center in Marin County. The ranch staff and students tend a rich and sprawling organic garden, keep goats & sheep, and steward a pond teeming with turtles, sunfish, bass, and dragonflies. Water birds visit Turtle Pond, and some of my fellow students witnessed an osprey diving for supper there last Sunday. The site is oddly Edenic ... much of the wildlife seems acclimated to human presence. I suppose the animals have figured out by now that the kids and naturalists who visit are no threat.

And the place is filled with wildlife: deer, foxes, wild turkeys, jackrabbits, racoons, raptors and songbirds, lizards and snakes.

This year, for the first time in the 13 years our school has held its annual workshop there, a young bobcat was hanging out in the neighborhood. Alongside the eponymous Walker Creek, my fellow student Jane C-- and I spotted the cat on our way to the facility's dining hall. I had a digital camera in my pocket, and we had the brilliant luck to encounter the bobcat on the way to his dinner as we were walking toward ours.

Here's the video:

In the edition of T'ai Chi Chuan classical texts translated by my grandteacher, Ben Lo, The Essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: The Literary Tradition, one of many prescriptions for practitioners of the art, attributed to Wu Yu-hsiang, is: "Walk like a cat."

With my camera capturing video, Jane and I watched the bobcat sense opportunity; step away from the overgrown creekside and into the open with precisely balanced focus and circumspection; stalk its prey; sink into a crouch, suspended on a cusp of supple readiness; then strike. Later that night we played back this exemplary illustration of Wu Yu-hsiang's advice for Lenzie and our fellow-students. It was an auspicious beginning to a week-long workout.

There's more that could be said about Walker Creek Ranch, a site that was once owned and inhabited by the drug-rehabilitation cult Synanon, and also served as the inspiration for my own short story "Martin's Pond," published some years back in Issue #20 of Five Fingers Review

But the bobcat bold enough to hunt in the presence of camera-wielding humans took center-stage this year during my visit to Marin County.


  1. Steve -
    If a blog is a reflection of a man's life, you gotta love yours. I never know when I read your blog where we're going to go - a good book, NYC, a museum, politics or in this case Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Very, very cool cat.
    And the bobcat was cool, too. Lindy

  2. nice Steve!
    this Bob (cat) is yet another Tai Chi master - just showed up there to give us some teaching..

  3. @Lindy -- aw, shucks. Glad you liked the video...

    @Rubi -- that's sure what it looked like to me!