It was a beautiful crisp day in Los Angeles and I took a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains with my long-time friend, Vani. The sun was bright, the vistas of the Pacific spectacular; we saw birds, deer and virtually no other hikers on the trail — bliss in my book.
And then we came upon a little makeshift memorial, constructed in a small clearing that overlooked the ocean. It was a cross made of sticks supporting a photo of someone’s beloved cat. The kitty’s favorite toys were laid out in memoriam, along with some fresh flowers, a paperweight rock picturing a curled-up cat, and a few quarters that I’m hard-pressed to explain. Then we spotted it: Hanging on one end of the cross was a carved wooden fish ornament carved with the words “Culebra, PR.”
Now, coyotes are a fact of life in the mountains where I live and hike. I frequently drive past “missing cat” flyers stapled to trees and assume the worst when the flyer isn’t taken down after a few weeks. Nature’s food chain is often cruel to our pets.
But it was the fish ornament with the words “Culebra, PR” that stopped us in our tracks.