EDITORIAL

A feeling of being watched

Posted 8/12/21

At some point I imagine we have all had the feeling of being watched, of somebody out there following our every movement although they aren't visible. I've felt it walking in the woods and out on the water. In both cases it's likely that I'm being

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EDITORIAL

A feeling of being watched

Posted

At some point I imagine we have all had the feeling of being watched, of somebody out there following our every movement although they aren’t visible.

I’ve felt it walking in the woods and out on the water. In both cases it’s likely that I’m being watched by critters whose space I’ve invaded. It’s silent and yet I feel there’s something alive out there. Then there’s been a rustle in the underbrush, the flash of a tawny coat and then the elegant form of a deer nimbly running between trees. Or, more frequently, I’m greeted by the scolding of a squirrel annoyed by my presence.

The birds are put off by my early morning rows on the bay. In the late fall and into the winter and spring months, Brant geese spread word of my presence. By the time they leave to summer in the Arctic they are accustomed to my morning routine, and I take their chatter as a welcome rather than an alarm. They surely are not the silent hidden observers who you “feel” are there.

On one occasion off Conimicut Point, I had that uncanny feeling. I paused, extending the oars perpendicular to the boat for maximum stability, and looked around. The water was glassy. In my wake there was a swirl. A head popped up and a pair of dark eyes stared at me. It was a seal. I was pleased to make his acquaintance.

These days the watching eyes are omnipresent. They pan stores, looking to snag shoplifters, and parking lots to catch car thieves or the motorist who would drive off after hitting a car. They’re pervasive in Hong Kong and China where armed with facial recognition technology they nab jaywalkers, or worse target individuals in rallies considered to be subversive by officials.

I found it weird to be thinking of this at 2 a.m. earlier this week. I don’t know what had awoken me. It wasn’t Carol’s deep breathing. That was a comforting rhythmic sound. Rather, it was that feeling of being watched.

I listened carefully. There was a second, lighter breathing cadence.

I wasn’t alarmed, just curious.

It didn’t take long to identify Ollie. His head was silhouetted against the window. While I couldn’t see his eyes, I was sure they were focused on me. I raised myself on my elbows. He didn’t budge.

OK, I thought, there’s some mental telepathy going on here and I better get him out. Ollie followed me downstairs. I slipped on a leash and released him in his pen. Usually, he does a patrol followed by a performance. Not this time. He stood at the gate staring at me. I stared back. It was a standoff. I brought him back in. He continued to stare. What did he want?

I made sure the door to his cage where he often sleeps was open. He checked it out but didn’t lie down.

I petted him.

“What is it, Ollie?”

He didn’t take his eyes off of me. I checked his water. He wasn’t interested.

I was at a loss of what to do. Finally, I flicked off the kitchen light and headed back to bed. Soon after, I heard his steps on the stairs and the padding of his feet as he entered the room. He was back at the end of the bed looking at me in the dark. The process was repeated the following two nights. By morning he was downstairs asleep in his cage.

Carol was mystified by his behavior. She suggested she wake him from his afternoon siesta and maybe he would sleep through the night. She remembered giving him his bedtime treat, a handful of kibble that he makes sure he gets. It wasn’t that.

Could something – something unseen – be bothering him, and this was his way of telling us? He doesn’t appear to be in discomfort. All I know is those silent eyes wake me up. Perhaps all he wants is some company, and that’s fine by me.

feeling, watched

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