Raccoons, that is. I read an article in a local woman’s magazine by a clever writer named Kelly Swanson who described her animosity toward these critters. It was well-done, funny, cute and interesting. Her funniest lines, to me, were, “Safe to say that raccoons and I have a mutual understanding - they don’t come near me and I don’t run them over with my car. That mutual respect was broken when Roger Raccoon took up residence in my attic” and “I knew it was a family because they fought constantly and I could hear them washing dishes over the faint tune of Little House re-runs.” I had a few laughs over this piece.
I’ve had a few brushes with what I call the ‘Racks’ over the years: It’s one of those old folklore stories that those older than the tweenies (teens to twenties) remember the hardships of growing older, and especially those memories of my parents’ generation of talking about walking to school five miles in a blizzard to get to a school bus, but I really did walk a half-mile on a dirt road to get to my bus out at the paved highway when I was a kid.
As with most country folk at that place and time, my family and the Holzhauers were friends. They lived on the first side road to the right after you left paved Hobbs Highway. (There weren’t many other roads off of it until all the way to the circle at the end, at which we lived on top of the hill overlooking Spider Lake.) I used to stop and talk to Mr. and Mrs. Holzhauer on my way home. Oftentimes, if they weren’t home, they, like most country people back in the ‘50s, left their door unlocked so I’d wander in and see what they were reading that week or just look about with childlike interest.
Sometimes when I entered, a raccoon was calmly eating cereal out of a box under the kitchen sink where Laura H. kept it just for the family. The rack wasn’t afraid, nor was I. I grew up with bears raiding our garbage can at night so a mere raccoon wasn’t nuttin.’ Did I mention we lived way outside the city in the middle of the woods on a lake? So that rack and I got to know each other, acknowledge each other’s existence, and make a calm and friendly co-existence in the house much like what I envisioned the Holzhauers had with it and his/her family (because each time I saw the rack it was sometimes a different gender.
They most certainly have different attitudes!).
After that, the next person-to-raccoon adventure occurred in British Columbia (absolutely God’s Country!) when the kids and I camped out for a week on the Fraser River. We started cooking steaks on a grill, and mom and dad raccoon came up to the grill with their kids while we were standing right next to it! We made a lot of noise and they disappeared, but that was only a calm before the storm. They came back with kids in tow and what happened next was worth the loss of about $30.00’ worth of steaks: Mom and Pop grabbed only one steak, then lifted the first youngster off the ground and showed them the rest. Mom and Dad then left and darned if the kids didn’t try their darndest to get the rest! Parental teaching is the best, I say.
My next interaction came here in Gadsden County, so I could and will say that I am so glad I live in Gadsden! This time, my hubby’s and my chickens were endangered by a really huge bull rack who was trying to dig under the wonderfully-devised raccoon-controlled fencing my husband constructed with underground layering so the critters couldn’t dig under the coop. Foiled by the fickle finger of Rick! But when I described the problem of Mr. Rack to then-director of the St. Francis Wildlife Center, Johnny Johnson, he came out with a really big cage, which promptly caught the culprit. Johnny said he’d release the boy about an acre away, still on our property. I complained until he said that raccoons have such a high intelligence that if caught, they’d never return to the same spot again. Wow! Did not know that. It worked.
And now comes the movie ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ which is the story of a mad raccoon named Rocket Raccoon saving the planet or some such. I am really looking forward to this movie! This madcap rack is part of a group of prisoners who allegedly save the galaxy. Maybe I’ll become a supporter of raccoon power!