By Rick de Yampert
So, I’m on my screened back porch this morning at the southeastern edge of Seminole Woods, talking by phone to my girlfriend, and then out of the corner of my eye I see this guy. I named him Bob, which is “Bob” spelled backwards.
This is the first bobcat I’ve seen during my 31 years in Florida. At my hermitage beside the wilderness in Palm Coast, there are wild woods to the south and flatwoods to the east and southeast. Bob sat at the east edge of my backyard for a full 20 minutes.
It’s difficult to gauge his size by these photos. In the close-ups he appears larger than to the naked eye, while the distant shot makes him appear much smaller than he actually is. He’s about the size of a medium-to-large dog — a bit smaller than a German shepherd.
Every once in a while he seemed to notice the click of my camera as I took pix from the open window of my dining nook. A few other times he alerted on some sound or movement. But mostly he just chilled — for 20 minutes! Then he turned and walked eastward into the patch of forest that gives way to the more open, prairie-like landscape of the flatwoods.
As Elena Jarvis and my Audubon guide to Florida wildlife note, bobcats are nocturnal, so it’s unusual to see one out in the open during the day.
I’m going to put out a saucer of milk and some Meow Mix or tuna, and if Bob comes back I will scratch him behind the ears. (Kidding . . .)
After posting this account on Facebook some responses said that Bob looks like a lynx. I thought so too, but my Florida Audubon book has an entry only for a bobcat — but its scientific name is “Lynx rufus.” Others said this looks like a female. I thought that too — it appears to my human mind to have what I would call a “feminine” beauty. But then I realized that may be me anthropomorphizing its appearance, and my Audubon book notes no differing physical traits between male and female bobcats. Still, yes it may be a female — I don’t really know.
And to my friend Becky Magnolia who posed the question, “What was its message?”
Ah Becky, you know my Pagan heart! I’ve been pondering that, and I left out of my original post that it has been a very active day for the crows at my hermitage beside the woods. They’ve been cawing like crazy since just after sunrise, and I’m seeing and hearing more than the usual three who visit my backyard. They may be alerting on the red-shouldered hawk I heard earlier, or Bob himself — the Audubon guide says bobcats “stalk and ambush small mammals and birds at night.”
I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s something. Yet Bob was just chillin’ like a Zen master. And, as Becky spurred me to ponder: This is likely the longest encounter I’ve ever had with a wild animal. Hmmmm. So that’s his message to me: Just chill, and life will unfold. Bob reminded me of a quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke that came up on my daily Zen calendar last week: “Let life happen to you. Believe me, life is in the right, always.”
Rick de Yampert is FlaglerLive’s culture writer. He initially wrote this piece on his Facebook page. Reach him by email here.