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Friday, June 17, 2011

Raccoon walks into a bookstore...

by John MacBeath Watkins

The raccoons in this neighborhood are a bit familiar for my taste.

As I've mentioned before, I'm trying to acclimate my cats to go outdoors now and then. I've been thinking that leaving the door open might help, and as the weather is clement, it was still open at 9:55 p.m. while I watched a movie in my shop, which is now also my abode.

Bunny came in from outdoors, glancing behind herself. I looked over, thinking at first that Bonney was coming in with her, then realized that the creature following her was larger and differently camouflaged -- a raccoon. Bunny is large in spirit, small in stature, and the raccoon was about twice her length, probably six to eight times her weight.

Now, I have no particular beef with raccoons. They are a part of nature, and as long as I can keep them from harming my cats or tipping over the garbage, we should get along fine.

But when a raccoon come marching into my house, where the lights are on, voices emanate from the movie playing (was the raccoon attracted to Audrey Hepburn? Who wouldn't be?) right at the heels of my cat, I must inquire after its intentions.

I stood to my towering height (5' 6" is huge to a raccoon), fixed it with stern and gimlet eye, and spoke to it in such terms that it could not mistake my meaning, (hissed at it) causing it to reverse course and exit posthaste.

Bunny has been a bit reserved since the incident, perhaps contemplating the fleeting nature of Life, and the unfamiliar dangers of the natural world. Bonney, taking full advantage of the natural cover, ensconced herself beneath the bed and remained there for half an hour.

Most likely the creature's ambition was to raid the cats' larder, cat food being ambrosia to raccoons (though Wikipedia informs me that if fed this for too long, they can develop gout. Apparently, this disease can strike them even in the absence of port wine.) Cats lie somewhere between the tame and the wild, for most of their history having a choice to live with humans or without them. Raccoons are not good pets, becoming cantankerous as they age, but they are somewhere on the continuum beyond cats, living comfortably in human territory without developing those bonds of affection that cats and dogs tend to have toward sources of food.

Which, of course, takes away our incentive to be intentional sources of food.

I suppose the tame/wild behavioral distribution is one of those statistical curves with a long tail, possibly furry and with dark rings on it.

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