Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Mystery of the Screaming Raccoon

I played Nancy Drew, super sleuth, at 3 a.m. last night, after waking up to a raccoon screaming somewhere out there.  A shrill, high-pitched, warbling kind of shriek - definitely not a happy raccoon, though I did briefly try to dismiss the noise as love play.  But it went on and on and I finally had to get up and see what was happening.  

So there I am at 3 a.m., wandering around the courtyard of the chic condos next door in my dressing gown and slippers, to discover that some raccoon was screaming up in the ivy somewhere, invisible and unreachable.  Which was in some ways a relief, because what would I, Nancy Drew, have done if I'd discovered a wounded or enraged beast?  Ripped up my nightgown for a tourniquet or blindfold? I did whisper, "Shhh," but it paid no attention.   

Nothing to do but go back to bed and put in earplugs. I remembered that exactly the same thing happened last year; back then I thought it was a little one temporarily abandoned by its mother.  This year I guessed a female in needy heat.  This is a Freudian test - listen to the yelling raccoon. What do YOU think is happening?

I put this event down on a list I keep in my mind: -"Experiences that Europeans do not enjoy" -and spent some time explaining it all to my boarder, who'd never been outside of Beijing before coming to Canada six months ago.  I had to tell her not only about the entire family of raccoons living on the roof just outside her attic window, but also the cause of that very bad smell that sometimes wafts through the downtown air.  "And besides skunks, there've been deer close to here," I said, "and beavers swimming in the Don." No bears, though the suburbs not that far away have a serious problem with bears.  And, unfortunately, no moose. 

I saw an interview on Jon Stewart with a man who's written a book about what would happen to the planet if we humans were all wiped out.  Extraordinarily fast, he said, other species would take over.  The trouble is, when we're not here producing garbage, what will those agile, omnivorous, occasionally extremely noisy masked bandits do for entertainment and food? 

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