Rocky and NalaLove, like anything natural, never loses its ability to surprise me. It is like a hearty sprig of grass that blossoms in a crack, refusing to let pavement come between earth and sky. With Sandstone Retreat behind me, I never expected to form such intense bonding relationships as I had known, especially with non-human friends. Indeed, I had searched for love until it found me, and chased love until it finally caught me.

After moving into our ten-acre sage brush kingdom in the wild, quiet Nevada desert, I learned the striking difference between solitude and loneliness. Here reigned solitude, an unhurried, uncrowded space where I could lose myself or be found. I was surrounded by many lovely critters going about the business of eating and being eaten. Oh, don’t get me wrong—I’m not being morbid. Indeed, even among the most vulnerable prey species I sensed more vigilance than fear.

Soon I found my place in this brave old world, forming a connection with my neighbors. While I sat outside in the swing; jack rabbits would boldly come within inches of me and gaze right into my eyes. Not exactly sure what they saw but it seemed to be interesting and pleasant for them. It was flattering to me. I cried when a lovely butterfly landed on my arm and found comfort staying for a while.
In our menagerie; were tigers, lions, cougars, lynx and a serval. Queen Nala the lioness came to us when she was five months old and weighed over sixty pounds. She made it clear that she wrote the rule book. She was still young enough and so cute that she insisted on sleeping in bed with people. At five a.m. each morning when it was time for her bed mates to get up and take her outside for her callings, they had better act quickly or meet the consequences.

It took Nala and I quite a bit of time to get our differences worked out. She felt I should be her slave and grant her many requests. She came with much anger over having to take pictures with children when she was a cub to help pay for her support. She never got over it and never liked kids. I became the butt of her anger. She felt it was my job to entertain her. One of her little activities was to have me pull her around in the snow on a shovel. By this time she has put on more pounds and when I fell down pulling her she would run and jump on top of me. The neighbors thought she was killing me and would call the sheriff. It was simply playtime. Soon she was too big to be on the outside of the compound so we put her inside with the bigger cats.

We continued that harassing relationship for about another year until one day we had a non-verbal understanding and chucked it all in the name of love. She no longer had a need to dominate and harass me and all the tension between us was gone. From that moment on she taught me valuable lessons and I showed her love, respect and compassion when she had a heartbreak (failed) relationship. She knew so much more than humans. When we stop thinking and talking we will know everything. God bless these majestic creatures!

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