It's really different here on the little piece of land that fell off the west coast of Canada. Different in a good way, like we can buy vegetables outside all year round and take the dog swimming in the ocean on New Year's Day, and wherever we look we can be pretty much guaranteed to cast our eyes on something breathtaking in the way of scenery. But it's also different in ways that make a mother's guts get all knotty.
I'm not talking about how easy it is to buy high-grade organic marijuana or psychedelic mushrooms here in the world capital of pot and 'shrooms. I think you can actually purchase them at most of our local farmers markets if you know what to ask for (which, for the record, I do not.)
Nor am I referring to the ever-present high alert we're all on for THE BIG ONE, although it was a real eye-opener when I got a note home from school right after we moved here asking me to place some very specific items in a Ziploc bag and send it back with my child to be placed in the earthquake kiosk out in the playground. Oh, the thoughts that went through my head and the horrible feelings I felt, imagining that something geologically devastating would happen and our family would be separated. I think my son's earthquake kit was the last one handed in because I couldn't quite manage to draft the optional "comfort note" without melting down. I mean, what do you say to your child when all he wants and needs is the reassurance of a parent's presence and there's a split-wide-open fault line between you and him? A glib "Keep Calm and Carry On" stuffed into a freezer bag with a McHappy Toy and a granola bar ain't gonna cut it.
No, the churn is to do with wild animals roaming the streets. I did hit this deer one time, on an ordinary weeknight while driving through a residential neighborhood minding my own business - this crazy leaping creature crazily leapt in front of the Impala (ironic, no?) and I nailed him pretty hard in the hindquarters (the last thing I saw before I closed my eyes and hammered the brake pedal).
But it's not about the free-ranging ruminants. It's the cougars roaming the streets of our city - that's what's giving this mom the heebie-jeebies. Five warnings in the last two days, the most recent being at the nearest intersection to the lads' school. They're bold, these urban cougars - wandering across the main highway, hanging out at the high school, loitering in the backyards of ordinary law-abiding citizens, quite possibly bumming cigarettes from some of the kids who hang out by the video store. Just for clarity (because the reference to approaching teenage boys may mislead the reader), I am not talking about big-haired divorced women with salon nails and pants that are a little too tight. I refer to the literal, actual large member of the cat family with massive deadly fangs and claws...
I don't like it one little bit. My only consolation is that the warnings usually caution folks take extra care with their children and pets, and my children are a beefy 6' and a fast-moving 6'4". I did warn them to watch out for their more petite friends though. It doesn't matter where you live: size matters.
Note: the deer lived. He was last seen limping off onto the adjacent golf course where, by the way, people golf every day all year round. Even in January. Even after a couple of big bong hits. Even with the everpresent threat of giant bloodthirsty felines lurking in the rough. I told you it was different here.