The wind was howling that dark New Mexico night, and we sat huddled in the middle room next to the parlor stove. Granny was putting together a picture puzzle, which was complicated by the feeble light of a kerosene lamp. The men had gone to Colorado to purchase logging supplies. We had just gotten an order for mine timbers from the mine, and they would need to be bringing trees down to the saw mill as soon as spring would let them.
Granny had a single shot .410 shotgun for protection. The homestead sat at the foot of the Sangre-de-Christo Mountains, and mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats were always trying to get into the chicken coop.
Something outside went “crash!” and let out a long creaking moan. Granny grabbed the kerosene lamp and went to the door. I don’t know how to describe a moonless winter night in that area, but it is very, very dark, and Granny couldn’t see a thing.
She shut the door and went back to the puzzle, and had hardly picked up a puzzle tile to try and fit it into the puzzle before a “rawrrrrrrr” sounded outside. Granny went to the door again, but this time she took the shotgun with her. I heard her mumble “mountain lion” as she opened the door.
Granny slammed the door shut, and we kids trembled in terror. I had never seen a live mountain lion, but I had read stories about African lions, and I sure didn’t like what I heard.
Granny picked up the kerosene lamp and carried it to the door, and again looked out, and just as quickly slammed the door shut. We were really frightened now, and it didn’t help to see Granny’s jaw tighten as she firmly grabbed the shotgun, opened the door and “Blam!” and slammed it shut again.
“I could see it glaring at me across the road!” she said breathlessly.
Rawrrrrrrrrr! Sreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Went the mountain lion again. Our blood froze and granny reloaded the shotgun, open the door and fired off another shell.
“I think I got him!” she said. “His eyes went out!”
Granny took the shotgun and the lantern and went out, and very shortly returned. “I could see drops of blood on the snow.”
We didn’t hear any more as the night wore on, and we slept a fitful, wary sleep until the first rays of dawn showed through the window shutters. Granny and I got dressed in heavy woolens, she reloaded the shotgun and I picked up the metal fireplace poker, and we cautiously went out to make sure we didn’t have a wounded cat nearby.
The red drops of blood glistened in the snow in the snow next to an old trailer we no longer used. I warily approached the trailer, hoping that the cat wasn’t lying wounded underneath it. Squatting down to look, I didn’t see anything under the trailer, and breathed a sigh of relief. I thought to follow the blood trail to see where the cat went, and went over to the first splatter.
It was then I noticed that the blood had frozen in the snow. Or so I thought. On closer examination, I discovered that Granny had shot the taillights out of the trailer. The tailgate had been blown loose by the wind, and I went over to put it back. “Rawwwwrrrrrrr! It went as rusty bolt turned in it pivot. “Screeeeeeee!” it went as it swung back.
Granny had killed the trailer!
Over the decades, Granny never lived that one down. When the men heard of it, they howled with laughter, and Granny would smile through clenched teeth. I am not sure but what she didn’t get even somehow. She was that way.