I’m all packed into the car and ready to go. I am about to meet my estranged father for the first time in my life. I know only that he owns a small zoo and a thriving cactus ranch out in the Sierra Nevada’s. As we drive along I notice the beauty of the surrounding countryside.
There are vineyards, orchards and then, as we wind into a deep valley, a beautiful cactus ranch with an assortment of prickly pickings. Through this wonderfully weird landscape we ride, until we reach the central hub of the cacti collective, a headquarters for the ranch that also serves as a small zoo. I walk in the front door and behold my father for the first time. He is tall and strong and he wears the safari khaki of his profession very well.
My father shakes my hand, and leads me into a special viewing room so I can take a gander at the newest addition to the menagerie, a small black panther cub. It seems helpless but I am told that it is the most deadly animal in the entire complex. Apparently unfazed by having met my parent for the first time in my life, I focus all of my attention on the little cat. It keeps trying to escape, and finally gets fed up with the attempts and asks very politely if I would please let it out.