How we scare mountain newbies

Big cone

Giant pine cones under construction. Look before you park! (Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

It’s not that mountain people want to frighten sweet, innocent newcomers, exactly. We simply want them to be prepared.

We want them to be ready especially for two minor dangers: those that want to eat us and those that can squash us flat.

We take in stride the creatures that want to eat us, hustling online to post mountain lion sightings and photos of bears on the patio. Full-time residents rarely call the sheriff to report lions and bears, because we know what often comes next when an animal with teeth and claws shows up in the flatlands, where deputies are trained. Cue Chopin’s Funeral March.

We also sleep right through skunks and raccoons rustling around noisily at night. Beware of letting your cat roam outdoors; when a cat doesn’t come home, the natural conclusion is that it fed a bobcat or a coyote. As far as your head goes, don’t worry – the bald eagles won’t attack like eagles do in other places.

Some things, however, might squash you flat. We love to tell stories about people squashed flat by rocks falling on their cars. In the stories, the victims are always flatlanders, never locals, as if falling boulders had radar More