Death by Mountain Lion


People ask me if I’m afraid to live with my kids out in the woods with all the dangers. Aren’t I afraid of mountain lions? I guess people don’t stop to think how much more danger they put their kids in by driving them to soccer practice.

In fact, nobody, not one single person, has been attacked by a mountain lion in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1908. Before I die, I hope to witness the elusive majesty that is the mountain lion.

Here are some stats from the Felidae Conservation Fund to give you pause. You are:

300 times more likely to be killed by a domestic dog.

500 times more likely to drown in your own bathtub.

2500 times more likely to die from an accidental fall.

7000 times more likely to die in a vehicle crash.

It is more dangerous to walk the streets in any U.S. city at night than it is to live and hike in mountain lion country.

This is how I think about it:

I want to die by mountain lion.

I want to die jumping and waving my arms and shouting, “Go away,” at death.

I want to die by rattlesnake, in a pain that says I’m still alive up to the very last.

I’ll take death by exposure—to my place in the universe under all those stars that hide themselves from the city.

Let me go by earthquake, swallowed by eons of mountain rubble, clutching my children as we exhale our last breath together.

Don’t let me die by rush hour minivan.

Or nursing home boredom.

Or Alzheimer’s fog.

Or if I must, let me be babbling again about that one time I fought off the mountain lion, while the smiling nurse says, “Of course you did, Mrs. Rigoni,” and pat-pats my hand where she can’t see the scar.