The Warmest Winter

In Sequoia National Park, the cold winds of the winter evening grow more intense as the afternoon turns into dusk. The year 2029 is coming to an end, making treetops yellow and covering the grounds in snow and dead leaves. As trees mimic the wind, ice begins to fall from dark gray clouds. The sun begins to set, making it darker by the second. Felix the bobcat leaps out of his den. He stretches his two-foot long body and straightens out his small tail. Stepping out of his home, he passes by a creek where water flows underneath a thin layer of ice on top. At this time of year, water sources around Felix should be completely frozen and safe for animals to walk across. However, over the past thirty years, little snow has fallen and, when it does, the weather is not cold enough for it to stay frozen.

Hungry and cranky, Felix roams the open fields for a small mammal, hoping to make it his dinner. Quietly walking through the thinnest layer of white, half-inch thick snow, he places his snowshoe-like back paws into his front feet’s prints, helping him move through the snow silently. Felix hears a group of squirrels under an orange-leafed oak tree with the help of extra tufts of fur on the ends of his ears that allow him to hear with accuracy. Felix begins to stalk the clueless squirrels. Slow and quiet, Felix moves alongside the bushes. He chooses his prey. Keeping his eyes on it, he creeps behind the farthest squirrel from the group. Pouncing on the defenseless animal, Felix immediately bites its neck with his long, sharp teeth, quickly killing it. As the rest of the group runs in different directions, Felix enjoys his fresh kill to start the very bizarre winter of his second year of life.

After he finishes his meal, Felix makes his way back to his den, satisfied. Bright stars that cover the sky shine through the tall trees covered in the thin layer of snow. Enjoying the stars, he listens to the river flowing clamly in the distance. Felix feels relaxed walking through the cold snow until suddenly he feels a sharp pain in his front paw. Snap! Felix has stepped on a trap. Realizing what he has gotten himself into, he panics. Trying his best to get out of the tight grip of the trap, Felix starts to bleed. Noticing the dark red snow underneath him, he stops trying to pull away. With so much blood lost, Felix begins to feel sick. He feels lightheaded, deciding to fall asleep so he can plan an escape with more energy.

Felix wakes up to the sound of something approaching him in the distance. He jumps up and looks around, noticing it is daylight. He turns to figure out what direction the noise is coming from. Felix begins to panic again as the crunching of snow begins to grow louder. Felix tries his best to calm down and stay quiet to make out the mysterious sound. Footsteps in the snow! They don’t sound like the footsteps Felix is used to hearing; they sink into the snow deeper than an animal’s would. As he lifts up his head from looking down at his icy paw, covered in dried blood, Felix notices an upright figure about forty feet away from him. It’s a human! Felix has never come in contact with one. Nervous and scared, he stays put and thinks of a way to escape. He stands still as the unfamiliar species approaches him. He has a plan. Once the human releases Felix’s paw from the trap, Felix will bite the human’s wrist. When the human grabs onto his wrist with his other hand, Felix will make a run for it to the nearest den.

As the old, gray-haired man kneels over to open up the trap, Felix looks at his target. Felix removes his bloody paw from the rusty trap and bites the human’s wrist immediately. Quickly grabbing his wrist, the man focuses on his hand and Felix takes the moment to run away. He limps as fast as he can to the nearest tree instead of running to his den, believing that it will be an easier place to hide from the man. Using his sharp retractable claws, Felix knows he can get up the tree swiftly. He leaps onto the tree but is slowed down by the cut on his paw. Struggling to get up the tall oak tree, he finally reaches the top. He looks over at the hunter and spots him stepping into a vehicle. Felix notices cages stacked on top of each other in the back of the truck. He observes the cages carefully, realizing each one contains a bobcat inside it. He knows that if he can survive until the winter ends, then his paw will heal and hopefully he will be able to avoid the man with the cages. The loud engine of the truck as the old man speeds off brings Felix back to reality.

After the encounter with the hunter, Felix takes every step with caution. Using his gray-brown spotted coat, he camouflages himself between bushes and in the grasses emerging from the little bit of snow there is, trying to avoid contact with humans. As the weeks pass, Felix becomes more aware of the traps and the hunting. Avoiding them with ease, Felix notices one day that they have all disappeared. With that in mind, he realizes that winter had ended many weeks earlier than usual.

Over many years, the winters shrink even more. Winter now begins in late December and ends in late January. Bobcat hunting season gets shorter and shorter because winter isn’t lasting as long. With the seasons changing in a matter of one month, humans don’t hunt bobcats as often. Felix and the rest of the well-adapted bobcats are catching on to this. They aren’t bothered by the shorter winters, and are actually looking forward to their short duration. As long as shorter winters will keep the hunters away, climate change is ofno concern to the bobcats.

This entry was posted in Student Writing Gallery.

Comments are closed.