There are mountain lions here in Northern CA. We notice their scat from time to time, and hear reports of sightings around us.
Last week when I noticed some fresh “stuff” close by the goose pen (which is a fortress for precisely this reason), it made me think more about predators and our relationship to them.
Then along comes this month’s National Geographic article about endangered snow leopards, who don’t roar. They weren’t drawn that way. The sounds they do make are more subtle, well, unless they’re doing them at you I suppose. They hiss, mew, chuff, wail, and growl. Of all these sounds it is the “chuff” that fascinates me.
It flashes me back to childhood memories of idyllic summer weekends spent at my Aunt Cornelia and Uncle Hi’s house. My cousins were a little older than me, and more rambunctious (if that was possible). When we engaged in record fights with 45’s*, Frisbee style, Aunt Cornelia chuffed...a lot. Chuffing can lead to punishment.
All married men have experienced chuffing, especially my wife tells me, ones who are prone to making puns. So be it.
I have reason to believe that my goose, Enzo, is learning to chuff, from a mountain lion, my wife, or both.
Chuffing comes across as parental (or alpha), in a way that is condescending. It’s a sign of impatience and deep-seated disapproval. Now Aunt Cornelia could pull that off, and a snow leopard...you see what I mean. But a goose? Really.
So for roar-less lions everywhere, chu..huff…cfffuuph…hupphh…CHUFF.
* 45’s are old-school hit single records, played at a faster speed that LPs.