Our son-in-law Bridger* whose family is currently staying in our home, he heard a mountain lion around here about 1:30 a.m… Just a heads up for your children and pets.

I read the message in our neighborhood chat, knowing my son wouldn’t take the news well. He’d been sleeping outside most weekends in a small canvas tent.

Still, it was my job to keep him alive. “I don’t think you should sleep outside tonight,” I told him.

He gave me the Teenage Look; the what stupid worry that couldn’t possibly exist do you have now, Mom? look.

I glared back. Lovingly. “One of the neighbors said there’s a mountain lion. It’s not safe.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Now it was my turn for a Look. I whipped up the oh no you don’t talk back to your mother look. “You’re not. It’s not safe and I won’t have you doing it.”

-Not that I didn’t intend for him to return, once safe.

We heard nothing. We saw nothing. The deer filtered into the back acres, eating beneath our fruit trees. They stood calmly, dipping their heads now and then to sample last year’s windfall. The only concern in those deep, soft eyes was for the humans staring at them from the windows.

And so, I granted my son permission to camp. He gathered his thick socks, his beanie, and his sleeping bag. He shoveled the starlit snow from the tent’s door and beat it from the tent’s outsides. Zip zip zup and he was inside, snug for the night.


Two a.m. is a rotten time to awaken -an opinion my two-year-old did not share. I calmed him, watered him, and tucked him back in. Then, I tucked myself back in.

I could not sleep.

An anxiety seized me. My neighbor’s message slunk around my brain: he heard a mountain lion around here. ‘What if it’s out there?’ my mind imagined. I peered through the back windows at my son’s tent. It sat, serene and silent in the shadowed snow. I heard nothing. I saw nothing.

‘It is nothing,’ I told my brain.

‘And even if it isn’t,’ a quiet voice reminded, ‘What would you do? Walk out there?’

I finally fell to sleep.

The next morning dawned frigid and overcast. I walked out to awaken my eldest. I’ll admit to looking warily about; when no wild cat appeared, I scanned for his prints. But all was smooth and undisturbed. I knocked at the tent as best I could. “It’s time to get up.”

The tent shook and stretched. “Okay,” huffed a deep teen voice. A moment later, the zipper opened –Zup zip zip! and two large feet in half-shod sneakers emerged. A lanky form followed, till my son stood before me. He closed up and we headed to the house.

“How’d you sleep?” I tried a casual tone.

“Not bad.” Crunch crunch “I heard a deer scream around 3 a.m.”

I allowed for silence as I considered his statement.

“Son,” I said carefully, as we walked, “I don’t think deer scream.”

He looked thoughtful.

I phrased my next words in a calm, level tone. “But I’ve heard that mountain lions do.”

We walked inside. I headed straight for a bathroom. He headed straight for a computer. We met up at breakfast.

“So, I looked it up,” he began, “Aaaaand, the noise I heard sounds just like a mountain lion.”

From YouTube, not from me.

©2022 Chel Owens

*Name changed

49 thoughts on “Mid-Night

  1. This is how young men develop courage, while their mothers get gray hairs.

    There are Buddhist monks, called Forest Monks, who meditate deep in the forests of Thailand, and sometimes hear tigers screaming while meditating. Developing the discipline to sit still and continue meditating, even as their hair stands on end, helps them to overcome their fear of death.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The fact that after he did the research, and came to realization that it was in fact a mountain lion and you still have to say “I’m not letting him out…” speaks volumes about teenagers!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mountain lions oh my!!

    I love, used to, tent camping. When my daughter was younger we would do it once a year for 10 days. So many wonderful memories from those times. I gave my gear away to a friend who ultimately lost it with his storage contents for non-payment but I’d like to think we got proper use of it all. When I heard the news of him losing the things I gave him, I was tremendously sad as if my memories went with them but I quickly realized those remain with me. I can’t say that I’ve ever camped in the snow though. I don’t think that would ever appeal to me. Teenagers😉🤓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ten days is a commitment! I have to admit that sounds fun, though. We’ve done a few nights and it’s more fun than setting everything up and taking it right down.

      And you’re right about the snow! He’s crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oy vay! Those things scare me… have you seen the video on YouTube of one of those stalking a poor soul! Luckily he got away… but scarryyyyy … So is your son going to camp out again? Has he changed his mind? ahh the invincible teen years LOL..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Teenage testosterone is all very well, but a few microfibres of canvas doesn’t offer much of a barrier from some big cat with a yen for breakfast. Time to strike the campout, son

    Liked by 1 person

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