Hearing a Gun Shot in Old Snowmass
Before I drove down our gravel driveway I took one last walk with Muki. It was pouring out but that is when I love Old Snowmass best, when the clouds are hanging low over the mountains and the barns appear through the mist the red stain looking freshly painted on nature’s canvas.
We ventured out becoming one with the landscape as we walked down the long dirt roads. Muki desperately wanting to herd the cows and horses in the fields as cowboys, and girls, lumbered by in large green tractors filled with hay.
Returning home I about jumped out of my muddy shoes when startled by a very loud gunshot. I scanned the fields looking to find the source from where the shot sounded like it came from. My first thought was that it could have been from my neighbor of whom Wade and I adore. All Brooklyn with a whole lot of Martial Arts and country thrown in, he wasn’t going to take no shit from nobody, least of all from a Mountain Lion that had been seen prowling along the fence of his backyard in the early mornings. My second thought was of a fed up neighbor sitting alone in a cold, dark room, no longer able to face the pressures of life. I dialed 911.
“What’s the emergency?” the dispatcher asked so quickly I got nervous. “It’s not an emergency,” I stuttered. “It’s just that I heard a gunshot that sounded as if it came from very nearby.” I knew that it had just changed from bow hunting season to rifle hunting but it sounded so close.
We hung up. A few minutes later I missed a call from a Sheriff who had left a number for me to call back. I called but a woman’s voice left a message that she was away at a meditation retreat and would not be calling back until she returned. I listened to my voice mail again to double check the number and called again. Same message. So I called back the number listed on the caller ID of my phone. A man with a nice low, raspy voice said hello. I mentioned that I was the one who had called 911 and he seemed confused. “Hold on,” he said fumbling with the phone. The sounds of laughter and shouting crept through the wire. I began to feel insecure. Was this or was this not the Sheriff or could it possibly be somebody who had hacked into my phone and was messing with me for calling over the sound of a gunshot. After all, I do live in the West where ranchers don’t need a permit to shoot coyotes. “Not Mountain Lions though,” he informed me on the phone as he drove toward me from the rugby game he had been watching up in Aspen. “You have to get a permit to shoot a Mountain Lion.”
I broke out into a sweat envisioning my neighbor in hand cuffs. “Can just anybody get a permit?” I asked, “Only if the Mountain Lion is considered to be a threat to your livestock,” he answered. “What about if you consider it to be a threat to your children?” I asked. “When we find dead people out in the wilderness, it is not the Mountain Lions who eat their bodies,” he informed me. “They don’t seem to much care for the taste of humans.” More information than I needed to know.
No sooner had I slipped into a steaming, hot shower to warm up from the walk when there came a knock on the door. I pulled on a bathrobe over my soapy wet body and ran downstairs to answer it. It was the Sheriff.
There we stood together in the driveway as if straight out of a set from the TV show, “Northern Exposure”. “So,” I said wrapping myself tighter into my bathrobe, “Who is the woman at the meditation retreat?” “Oh, that’s my wife,” he responded. I didn’t ask why he had given me his home number instead of his cell number.
A meditation retreat sounded perfect for me at the moment only, being a social person I have no doubt that I would fail miserably at keeping all emotions between only myself and the Universe. “How’s the food?” I asked. He didn’t know, she had left her phone at home. We both agreed that it probably wasn’t about the food. Standing there for a few more moments he made the motion to leave, “I guess I’ll go check on your neighbors now,” he said and I agreed that it was probably a good idea.
It didn’t take him long to come back and report to me the good news that the neighbors all seemed fine. “I’m sure it was a hunter up in the hills,” he said with conviction. I told him that he reminded me of my husband who, whenever asked if he would believe me if I told him I saw something extraterrestrial, he responds by saying that he would believe that I believed that I truly saw what I thought I saw but he would question whether I actually saw it or not. “The shot seemed close,” I said again,” and with that he smiled nodding his head and said his goodbyes.
Maybe it’s good that I live in town now. I’m not sure I was cut out for country living.