Friday, July 27, 2012


A furry raccoon stared back at me this morning from one of two metal cages baited with marshmallows and placed in my yard two days ago by a wildlife removal company. The animal looked just like I expected from the cartoons, a ball of fluff with a dark “bandit” mask around its eyes. Actually, it looked cute, but I wasn’t taken in. Sometimes our furry little friends can be our enemies. This one has been my nemesis for longer than I care to admit, making itself comfortable in the attic and chimney of my home and then having babies: babies that bump and scrape against the walls and cry with little clicks in their voices.

I was alone the other morning when that chilling sound filled the living area of my home, instantly gripping me in bone-deep fear. It was early and still dark out. I jumped out of my chair and grabbed a broom, my heart rate in overdrive, and then crept downstairs toward the crying. Was the animal in the fireplace? It seemed so; the noise coming from that dark void was immediate and loud. Only after I nudged an upholstered chair against my metal fire screen did I realize that the fireplace box was empty. No raccoons were going to jump out with their little claws and chase me through the house.

When it comes to animals, I am missing a sensitivity chip. I have to tell you that, or you might not fully appreciate my state of mind during this adventure. Even though I like, even love, some of my friends’ and family members’ pets, I am not an animal person. And raccoons are a far cry, so to speak, from domestic pets.
I was thrilled to gain a temporary roommate a couple days ago, and I’m not talking about Mama Raccoon. My brother, Joe, is staying here while he convalesces from back surgery. The timing was perfect in light of the raccoon issue. Never mind that Joe is wearing a neck brace and using a walker, moving at the pace of Tim Conway in the comedian’s hilarious characterization of an old codger; at least I was not alone with the beasts. And then last night when he heard the critters moving around inside the chimney space, Joe said, “If one of them comes into view, I’m out of here.”
When we were growing up in Glen Ferris, West Virginia, our house was spitting distance from Route 60, the Midland Trail. Route 60 was, and is, the only road going through town, the automatic default for semis and coal trucks as well as cars. The only buffer between our front yard and the traffic whizzing by was a sidewalk. Our parents wouldn’t let us have a dog because it could run out into the street. We couldn’t have a cat because my mother was afraid of cats. Our pets were dime-store Easter chickens that later “went to a farm” and turtles the size of deviled eggs. The chickens were dyed—mine was bright pink—and the turtles had designs painted on their little shells. We probably took home a goldfish or two over the years, as well. They did not prepare me for wildlife.
When you have raccoons, you hear noises above you that might remind you of your dad getting out of bed, as they did me. Boards creak with the weight. The creaking is punctuated by mysterious clunks. In addition, odors may drift down into your living area, and you might find yourself looking for the Yankee Candles in case anyone comes over.
The day I heard the raccoons crying I was ready to sign my place over and flee, but I called the animal control company instead. “I have an appointment for next Monday,” I said, “but this can’t wait. These raccoons are too close for comfort--practically in my living room. Please come before they start telling me what they want to watch on TV.” The wildlife removal guy came, the traps were set, and you know the rest.
This post, contrary to the title of my blog, isn’t about writing. I have to say that a lot lately, but here’s the point. It is writing. I am writing again. Thanks for following my meandering blog.