I have a fondness for Buddhism and its teachings. Whenever I get too off my spiritual center, I sometimes remind myself of Buddhist principals, especially that of having true compassion for all living things. I’m not Buddhist, I’ve only read a few books a buddy of mine loaned me when my ex-wife left me for a spiritual quest in the name of Mountain, actually his name was Matthew, and he was far from a mountain in reality. I relied on my lessons of compassion when I finally met him—not to kill him. And, most recently here in my own backyard, I’ve had to rely on my Buddhist teachings once more. No, Mountain didn’t show up. He’s been gone for a long time now, and good riddance. It was those pesky Ra(t)ccoons!
Those that know me, know that I love my garden, bonsai trees, pond, swimming pool and all the trimmings. And, that over the years I’ve feuded with all kinds of critters that can’t seem to live harmoniously with me. Squirrels, Possums, Night Herons, Ra(t)ccoons, Rats, and other rouge creatures. Typically, we’re all good. Until they start destroying bonsai trees in minutes that I’ve nurtured for years, eating my friendly fish, or simply covering my deck in bird shit. I always turn a cheek, and reason that if you build an awesome micro paradise you have to deal with these kinds of things. Sometimes months on end will pass, and the world in my backyard seems as a paradise of co-habitation.
Two days ago, I was going to do the morning fish feeding. It’s pretty cool, that 10 years ago I made a small pond in the yard and threw some .10¢ gold fish in it and they’re still alive and well. They’ve even produced three offspring. Needless to say these guys, and girls are my fish friends. When I arrive at the ponds edge, they greet me, of course knowing that they’re getting fed. Still, I find it comforting that they can pick me out from other humans, and especially animals that want to eat them. On this day, as I arrived at the shed to retrieve the fish food I discovered that the squirrels had attacked. Two of my maple bonsai trees were half dug up. I pondered for an instant, “It’s been too long, they’re back, those sons of a bitches, where’s my gun, I’m gonna kill me something.” Then, I remembered, or that little Buddha on my shoulder said, “awe man, or maybe it was, dude be kind. This hasn’t happened in a long time, they only dug up some dirt the trees aren’t dead, roots are still in tack. No worries…” I scooped the dirt back into the pots, covered them with rocks to stop them in their return, and went into the shed for the fish food.
Once in the shed, I stopped to scan a 280 degree view of my ransacked shed. Camping gear knocked down, fly fishing equipment, cords, bottles, car racks, and a big pile of bird seed scattered over gear tubs. Instantly, I thought, critter attack and how could that happen with the door shut. Then it dawned on me that the night before, the dogs, despite their tiny size had chased down a raccoon to that corner of the yard. Typically, they run over the fence, but apparently this raccoon took a different approach and hid in the little building with the door open. Maybe knowingly tricking the dogs, which aren’t the smartest. Let’s say that no one is going to copy their homework. I happened to notice the door was left open and shut it for the night—apparently with a ra(t)ccoon inside. Then the thought occurred, it’s still in there, and I’m going to have to confront him. So, with flash light in hand I start looking.
First I cautiously look on all the shelving, behind gear, buckets, lawn tools, etc. Thinking, I sure hope I don’t startle it and it charges me like in some Hollywood B flick. Well no sign, but he could not have gotten out with the door shut, so he has to be in here some where. But where? Not in attic part I hope. It’s a small hole that you have to crawl into and pull yourself up. Not a good position to find yourself in, when a raccoon is charging you. It reminded me of the time I had to reach my arm up into the chimney, through the chimney flue, to pull a dead, rotting, raccoon carcass off a ledge. It took a few minutes to get the guts to do it, wondering whether it was still partially alive and whether it could still bite me. Repeat—I had the same feeling. “Todd climb up there. Don’t be a pussy. You can do it. It won’t attack you.” And sure enough, a few minutes later I head up with flash light. Left corner, look’s good. Right corner, look’s good, no coons. Back right corner, nothing. Last corner, yikes it’s a 30 pound coon. So, I start talking to it. “Hey, dammit, what the f@#k are you doing in here? You can’t stay, time to go.” It looked at me while I spoke and then simply turned its head and burrowed into the corner, with ass facing me. Well, what to do. It’s morning, raccoons are nocturnal, he’s not coming out until later tonight. I’ll just leave the door open, go to work and he’ll be gone when I get home.
After work, I go straight to the shed to see if he’s gone. Once again I have to climb into the attic hole, but this time I don’t hesitate. I must have surprised him, he wasn’t going anywhere, and was sprawled out on a duffel of sleeping bags. He must of been thinking, “this is pretty nice dry place to sleep off the 2 pounds off bird seed he feed me last night, this place is great.” Once again, I start talking to him, and I quickly get his attention and he darts to the corner. “You can stay, the train’s leaving, get the f*%k out.” No response, I leave the shed, door open, hoping he comes out once it gets dark and neighbors put out cat food.
The next morning, I had to crawl up there again. At this point, I’m thinking pitchfork—he better be gone. Sure enough he split, but not with out finishing off that pile of bird seed, and leaving a pile of shit (literally) for me to clean up.