Ruth Koehler

Calvary Writers

He always does what comes naturally. Forages for food, yet is wary of his surroundings, distrusting what’s around the corner.  Smelling the hummingbird feeders with the sweet juices inside is irresistible.

All was quiet as he scrambled up the bank. The moon shone pale casting a clear path through the freshly mown grass toward the house. He sniffed, then easily scurried up the tree, grabbing the feeder and dropping it to the ground.  He picked it up with both hands, tipping it upside down in order to sip its succulent contents. There must be more inside.   After studying it, he unscrewed the cover with humanlike hands. Oh, wondrous sweetness!  After draining all he could, he crashed the feeder to the ground. Maybe there is more of this around the corner. 

Dashing around the house, he could make out another feeder hanging at about the same height as the first.  After studying this new enticement, he scampered up the tree, reached over and easily knocked the feeder down, raced down to pick it up and partake of more delicious juices.

This became quite easy. Until a new situation arose the next night…

At his usual spot a curious object sat on the ground.  What is this strange contraption? He could make out food in the center….looks like cat food, his favorite delicacy!  Also could be a trick, he thought, as he carefully studied it.  Maybe it’s best to not touch that metal piece.  Aha, success!  I can reach the food without touching it. Lo and behold, this worked for two nights straight.  Sometimes repeated success can make one careless.

The next night the same delight awaited him.  As he cautiously approached the box, he noticed something looked different.  Unable to notice the position of the food being changed, he carefully moved in to eat….bam! A door slammed down, and he was locked inside the cage!  Not yet aware of the long night ahead.

He found he could still breathe and move around a little, barely. Maybe trying to push the door open would help—-but to no avail. Over and over, he tried to squirm out, chewed the cage wire, even tried to tip the whole cage over.  Nothing worked.  This went on for hours, until finally, he lay down and slept awhile from exhaustion. No doubt he had some fun dreams of freely  romping in the fields. Fitfully, he alternately slept and awakened.

As daylight emerged, his eyes searched his new surroundings. The nightmare was still on!Suddenly the patio screen screeched open and a wide-eyed lady stood there “So, you finally got caught!”  He looked at her with bandit eyes.  “Come see what’s out here” she told someone. Soon a man was also looking at him like he was a circus freak.   Surprisingly, they left him alone for the next few hours. Maybe this is a good time to get free.

Again, he tried chewing the wire, pushing each end of the cage, trying to tip the whole box over. Maybe if he lay on his back and stretched…nothing worked, and, after several hours, he again slept with all energy spent.  All this violent squirming caused chunks of hair to come loose inside the cage. The creature grew miserable with no hope for his future.  Guess it’s time to eat a little more cat food.

Without warning, the man came toward him. Wearing colorful, heavy gloves, he quickly picked up the whole cage, carried it and him though the garage and into the back of his pickup truck. He wondered what next would befall him!  He could see two girls in the back seat and the same lady in the front. The man got into the driver’s seat and they backed out. What a strange sensation to be riding and floating along!  This can’t be a good thing, he thought, becoming more panicky as he shifted and slid around.

After a short ride, the truck stopped. As the man picked up the live trap and placed it on the ground, the raccoon became aggressive, hissing as the man poked the door with a stick exclaiming “I can’t remember how to to open this door!”

The raccoon growled and snarled, trying to attack the stick, not realizing the man was trying to help him. This went on for several more tries. Charging, creating sounds and movements he didn’t know he possessed, he put on quite the show.  He knew he had an audience, making him panic even more.

Although the door suddenly opened, the creature backed quickly into the opposite end of the cage, growling, unaware of freedom waiting. Finally, seeing the open end, he charged out, feet spinning and kicking up sand as he ran blindly across the road and into the welcoming marshland ahead. Everyone felt like cheering. “It’s a lot bigger than I thought” the man said.

It came to our attention that raccoons can indeed be aggressive. Also, if coon hounds get a raccoon into water, the raccoon can drown the hound despite the size difference. This was news to me. It also caused us to wonder about a raccoon’s memory.  Would the next bird feeder cause this one to pause? Would he come back to the same spot, or try a new one?

This experience affirmed our belief that living so close to nature’s wildness makes each day more interesting and challenging.