22 August 2014

Coon Time

They're not afraid of me. I'm afraid of them. It's my problem to get over.

I live in a smoke-free house so I spend a lot of time on our enclosed-by-screen back porch, smoking as I do whatever else I'm doing. In the months since the neighbors moved away the raccoon presence has steadily intensified. The neighbors had three dogs.

In the beginning, I only saw them occasionally, usually around sundown, a quick scurry under the hedge a the periphery of my vision. They were cautious and seemed to avoid being seen or confronted.

Then came the afternoon when C and I were sitting on the back porch and a raccoon sauntered across the yard. Hours before sundown, completely unconcealed, and untroubled by the sound and smell of human beings less than 30 feet away.

Since then their boldness has only increased, to the point that they now frolic nightly in the
branches of a tree less than 15 feet from the porch. They aren't in the least intimidated by my presence, smoking...talking on the phone...James Brown wailing on my computer.

Unanimous local advice when I've asked about strategies for controlling them is "Get a gun" and everyone has a raccoon story (or three) to share. I spotted raccoon traps in the hardware store the other day. "What would I do with them after I caught them?" I asked. The store owner looked at me like I was ten kinds of crazy. "Well, you shoot 'em," he finally replied. "Waste of time and gas to drive 'em out and let 'em go. They'll just come back."

After half a century of being adamantly anti-gun, something is shifting in me. There are no light fixtures in our deep backyard. Sitting in the light on the back porch it's impossible to see beyond the screen. Last night, I listened without being able to see while raccoon scurried and crashed about in
the yard and door-less storage shed. When I heard the ping of the chain link fence they use as a springboard into the aforementioned tree, I turned on a flashlight and threw the beam on three large raccoon. They looked at me. My imagination or were they annoyed?

I cannot imagine myself pointing a gun at a caged raccoon and pulling the trigger; but I admit I wished that flashlight was a shotgun last night.

They're only going to get bolder I predict. They have no fear of me. I'm the one with a problem...