18 January 2008


For a month or so, I've been noticing dead raccoons on the road. Each time I spot one, I have to force myself to keep driving. There is a stronger and stronger urge to pick it up and take it with me.

I don't know what's up.

When I was living in northern Colorado in 2005, raccoons started appearing frequently. At that time I was amazed by their size, much larger animals than I'd expected. One night, walking home from dinner I spotted two of them almost a block away. At first, I didn't know what I was seeing: an animal the size of a small collie but not moving like a collie. And the tail was wrong.

I slowed my pace as I approached, a little scared. When I came within 20 feet of them, one of them scurried into a flood drain. The other one stood up! I stopped cold in my tracks. What the ...!!? The animal stood there under the streetlight and looked right at me.

What a moment! OK. So you're a great big raccoon standing up, looking me in my eye. And I'm a colored girl frozen in her tracks and scared of you. Where do we go from here?

Nowhere. I stood there breathing shallow and trying to muster a "we're all God's creatures" frame of mind. Eventually he (?) fell back to all-fours and slipped into the drain behind the other. I hugged the fence, as far from the drain as possible as I passed the spot where they'd stood.

Back at the house, I looked up Raccoon in Ted Andrews' excellent book "Animal Speak". I can't find an excerpt online but the link leads to some of the kind of teaching I found. A couple of the ideas that jump out at me tonight:

  • "The paws are very dexterous. Raccoons can be expert at opening lids, latches, doorknobs, and such..." Thinking about raccoon paws at the piano...
  • "One of the most striking features of the raccoon is the mask ...Although some associate this with thievery, it actually gives the raccoon a very powerful mystical symbolism. The use of masks to achieve altered states and for other healing and ritual purposes has been a part of every society. ...with masks there is ambiguity and equivocation..." Reminds me of my attraction to veils. I've only once actually worn a veil in public. And, oh what a night that was!
  • " This is the magic of raccoon. ...expert at disguise and secrecy. ... It can teach you how to mask and disguise and transform yourself. ... Raccoon holds the knowledge of transformation through masks and disguise. ...Do you need to present a different face to people for greater success? Are you hiding your true self? ...Raccoon can help you find the answers."
Well. There's some food for thought, no?

1 comment:

  1. Lots of food for thought in these last three posts ... I hardly know where to begin.

    I saw two raccoons outside the home of friends two weeks ago, just out for their Sunday evening stroll as they ambled down the street. Very imposing. They look like they could really f*ck a brother up if they wanted to. I understand the terror.

    I love the quote about being an artist. I identify with that, too. The question, "What do you want to do?" strikes me in a strange way, with the same taste of presumption I get when someone asks, "So what do you do?" I do a lot if things, and I want to do a lot of things. Could you put a little more of a point to your question?

    Lastly, "Taking a Chance on Love" reads like one of those songs from a bygone era of music, where a lot of attention was paid to theme and rhyme scheme. I hope to hear you singing it sometime soon ... perhaps on your restored piano ...?


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