CommonLaw looked for three hours today. When I got home from work I looked for another three hours. I should have called in sick, no, I should have looked all night, no, I should have been smart in the first place, hmm. The bizarre thought crossed my mind while I was falling down another too-steep mountain side for the second time, cobwebs smearing across my face, that it was like an Indiana Jones movie. Except without the entertainment, adventure, or happy ending. There were grape sized THINGS dangling from my arm and chin, things super glued to me by spider silk, and I was trying not to panic when they WOULDN'T WIPE OFF.
My legs are criss-crossed with bramble attacks. I finally wised up and changed into pants after the first hour. I was trying to be slow and quiet and not intimidating as I called and called and slipped through the crackling leaves. I occasionally burst into tears, then probably wiped my eyes with poison oak juice, as a couple of those plants took me by suprise. After having all day at work to ponder the awful fates that could have befallen a scared and lost kitten, the hours in the forest straining to listen, climbing cliffs on all fours, and shaking from exhaustion were kind of a relief. A mind numbing, self flagellation, cold kind of comfort. Actually hot, I was sweating buckets, got a heat rash that itched bad.
And I gave up, for today, reason number 114 to hate myself, but I got a good scare. Scarier than rolling my ankle on a loose log; I'm lucky I was wearing my hiking boots. Occasionally when hiking I stop and look around, take in the big picture, plot my course. And in the third hour today, I did a forest scan, and there was a face watching me. Way up the mountain, so that I had to look hard to be sure. At that point I really did go cold. I froze with a sudden gripping terror, my heart lurching from my test and my adrenaline surging. It wasn't a trick of the light, it was a big pale face staring intently at me. I almost soiled myself. I have never seen a human on the mountain, but just the idea scares me more than seeing a cougar or other predator. I've run into coyotes a handful of times, and they pretty much go their way while I go mine.
For a long minute, felt longer, we just stared at each other. Then it moved, and it was a dog. Two dogs actually, that finally gave a woof at me, not in a friendly way, but before either of them or I could do anything, one dog suddenly gave chase to something. This added a whole new nightmare of what ifs in my mind for Maggie, and I used the adrenaline they'd given me and tore up the hill after them. I had a 18 inch saw on my hip, in case I had to do some serious bushwhacking, and at that point, animal lover or no, I might have used it on them if they had found Maggie. Well, maybe not- I'm glad I wasn't put to the test. They out ran me no problem, but stopped at an open ridge where I could see them, and that they had no prey.
I kept on for another half hour, but it was getting dark, and I kept spooking myself, jerking my head up to look behind me for faces, and I chickened out (reason 115). I don't know if I can forgive myself. I've lost too many cats in the last few years, to poison, or internal ruptures, or just disapearing, but this is somehow the worst. I barely even knew her, was just getting to learn her personality, her individuality. She's just a young one. And when my other ones were stolen from me it had nothing to do with making a dumb mistake on my part. Yup, goin' to hell, my new mantra. I know I'll have to make some kind of peace with myself, but I won't stop looking, and praying and hoping yet.
Thank you guys so, so very much for your words and thoughts. Sometimes crap just happens, that's life, I know. I just wish it wasn't, ya know? So I would like to give thanks for some things (is that selfish?) to try and balance out my turmoil: having a running car, the ability to make iced coffee without worrying that I'm going to melt all the ice I just bought for the cooler, and most of all, you, m' peeps. And a prayer: please, universe, please please let Maggie be okay.