The Arizona Game and Fish Department caught and collared a wild jaguar in Arizona for the first time, officials said Thursday. While a handful of the big cats have been photographed by automatic cameras in recent years, the satellite tracking collar will now help biologists learn more about this animal’s range.
Meanwhile, a jaguar was spotted in central Mexico for the first time in a century…
I had no idea. These cats (and leopards) have always amazed me. I read up on jaguars fifteen years ago to write “Yaguara.” But I never knew they were in North America. I think of them as jungle cats. The notion of a yaguar in dusty old Arizona is just, well, I keep seeing images of cowboys being pulled off their horses by a fucking jaguar and it’s wrong. But it’s also terribly cool. I’m feeling very pleased. The world is full of wonders.
Here’s an excerpt from “Yaguara.”
The rainy season was not far off. The days were hotter, more humid, and Jane worked harder than before, because when she was busy she did not have to deal with Cleis, did not have to look at her, think about how her skin might feel, and her hair. She did not have to worry about getting Cleis to a hospital.
The nights were different.
They would sit outside under the silky violet sky, sipping rum, talking about the jungle.
“The jungle is a siren,” Cleis said. “It sings to me.” Sweat trickled down the underside of her arm. Jane could smell the rich, complex woman smells. “Especially at night. I’ve started to wonder how it would be during the rains. To pad through the undergrowth and nose at dripping fronds, to smell the muddy fur of a paca running for home and know its little heart is beat beat beating, to almost hear the trees pushing their roots further into the rich mud. And above, the monkey troops will swing from branch to branch, and maybe the fingers of a youngster, not strong enough or quick enough, will slip, and it’ll come crashing down, snapping twigs, clutching at leaves, landing on outflung roots, breaking its back. And it’ll be frightened. It’ll lie there eyes round, nose wet, fur spattered with dirt and moss, maybe bleeding a little, knowing a killer is coming through the forest.” Cleis’s nostrils flared.
Jane sipped her rum. She could imagine the jaguar snuffing at the night air, great golden eyes half closed, panting slightly; could taste the thin scent molecules of blood and fear spreading over her own tongue, the anticipation of the crunch of bone and the sucking of sweet flesh. She shivered and sipped more rum, always more rum. When the sun was up and she looked at the world through a viewfinder she did not need the numbing no-think of rum, but when there was just her and Cleis and the forest’s night breath, there was nowhere to hide.
And so every night she staggered inside and fell across her bed in a daze; she tried not to smell the salty sunshiny musk of Cleis’s skin, the sharp scents of unwashed hair, tried not to lean towards the soft suck and sigh of rum fumes across the room. Tried, oh tried so hard, to fall asleep, to hear nothing, see nothing, feel nothing.
But there would be nights when she heard Cleis sit up, when she could almost feel the weight of Cleis’s gaze heavy on the sheet Jane kept carefully pulled up to her chin, no matter how hot she was. On those nights she kept her eyes shut and her mind closed, and if she woke in the middle of the night and felt the lack of heat, the missing cellular hum of another human being, she did not look at Cleis’s bed, in case it was empty.
It’s one of my stories (actually it’s a novella) that’s not available for free on my website; I just haven’t got around to it. If you want to read the rest you’ll find it in With Her Body, along with a couple of other things.