Moonlit snow leopard.


The moon is rising from behind the mountains here in the Himalaya, plump and heavy-looking. As I’m taking photographs through my window at the base of two mountains, I spot a snow leopard on a western peak. He is sitting on layers of undisturbed snow — so soft in the moonlight, alluring me to throw my arm into the dark night and come up with a fistful. Soft moonlit snow.

I say I spotted him but it feels like he wanted to be seen. The greyish fur stood out enough against the snow in my viewfinder. A small miracle that brought my first-ever sighting. His eyes and fur glowing in the moonlight falling on him. I had made no noise to let him know of my presence but he knew I was there, as if he always knew. And so we stared eye to eye for many minutes. Gazing into his eyes, I felt as if I had come to know why this animal is so elusive.

My dreams converse with the reality. I will always remember his eyes.

My first snow leopard sighting is not unlike my dreams. I will always remember this night.

November 5, 2021