I wrote once about a raccoon that had startled me when it appeared
at the edge of the woods as I was riding my bicycle.
No matter how may times I see a raccoon,
I always feel like it's a special sighting
even though they are prevalent in the Shire.
raccoon photo courtesy of morguefile.com
I realized this morning it has been quite some time
since I've seen one in the woods behind our house.
They used to be such frequent--and mischievous--visitors.
I recounted recently how they broke the Yankee Spinner bird feeder
by repeatedly loosening it from its tree branch and dropping it to the ground.
But, besides stealing a lot of birdseed,
they have also proved adept at un-planting freshly planted flowers.
I once spent hours planting a collection of astilbe
around the base of a pine tree
only to come out the next morning
to see every single one of them pulled up and tossed aside.
The astilbe probably would not have survived there anyway,
so I guess the raccoons just corrected my gardening error.
Raccoon stories are frequent when one lives closer to natural areas.
I recall one of my neighbors mentioning that the sod
he had had installed behind his house
was rolled back up during the first couple of nights by foraging raccoons.
And a brief check of the Internet reveals one story
about a raccoon that got into a house
and proceeded to open and close drawers in the kitchen.
So I must concede that raccoons are not always well-behaved.
But there is something about that masked face,
ringed tail, and set of small paws that charms me.
I enjoy discovering their small hand-like paw prints
in the mud along creek and river banks.
These raccoon prints were on a dirt road in Chippokes Plantation State Park:
We have been entertained in the past
by watching raccoons consume their dinners.
One raccoon was such a regular visitor to our bird feeders
that we named her Isabella.
She had a distinctive white mark on her face and appeared to be older.
She's been gone for several years now.
All of my experiences with raccoons have been pleasant ones,
but they have never chewed through my roof,
invaded my attic, snooped in my kitchen cupboards, or harassed my pets.
The truth is, raccoons are most easily appreciated at a distance.
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