Friday, 19 December 2014

US SIGHTINGS: Ageless: Encounter with panther embedded in memory

Margaret Broussard, For FLORIDA TODAY12:02 a.m. EST November 28, 2014

I have a memory that I can’t pinpoint in time or place, but it is vivid, nonetheless. Perhaps I was about 31/2, and it may have been in the Ocala National Forest, not far from rural community of Citra.

Whenever and wherever it was, Daddy, my brother, Allen, and me were walking through woods with an open understory — overgrown scrub, I know now.

It must have been winter, because I recall shuffling through turkey oak leaves. I think that’s when I learned what turkey oak leaves looked like — almost resembling a turkey’s footprint in the sand.

I was right at Daddy’s heels, while Allen was trailing us. We were coming to a ditch alongside a dirt road when suddenly, Daddy stopped and threw his hand out to stop me. I looked up at him, and then to see what he was seeing.

There in the road sat the biggest cat I had ever seen. It was much larger than Allen and I. Actually, it was bigger than the two of us together.

I was too stunned to speak, and Daddy’s hand on my shoulder told me by its gentle pressure not to move or say anything. We just watched that beautiful, big cat, and it watched us. We didn’t move, and neither did the cat.

Finally, it got up and leisurely turned and walked away down the road, with its long, heavy tail swinging back and forth. Then it leaped the ditch as easily as a house cat leaps across a little puddle, and disappeared into the woods.

I guess Daddy was holding his breath, as I heard him exhale.

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