I heard a thump on the deck in the backyard, so I turned on the outdoor light. Illuminated are five baby raccoons slowly wobbling about the deck. Oblivious to me standing at the patio door, they continue scanning with their noses for food. A clay flower pot lay on it's side by the steps.
When I slide open the patio door, their hard-wired defensive instincts kick-in and they scurry for cover.
Raccoons are scavengers, they'll eat anything that's not moving; everything you would throw in the compost bin - or the garbage. They have claws, like a bears, that are good for digging and climbing. They never attack, but they will not retreat, unless they deem it is safe to do so. Their best defense are their claws, so turning and running render raccoons defenseless.
Later that night I hear another noise, the curb-side garbage pales topple, so out I go to investigate, because cleaning the mess in the morning is more work and less fun than playing security guard now. Out the patio doors at the back, around to the front along the driveway... And there it is, this beast of a coon; he's about two feet long, and looks like he'd weigh fifty pounds.
He stops prying off the triple bungee-corded garbage pale lid, and stands there on his hind legs, balancing on the toppled pale - staring at me.
My first instinct is to attack - he's got my garbage pale and he's not responding to the fact I'm four times his size and that scares me. So I bluff an attack to free my garbage pale!
And he stands there.
Then I remember a lesson of my experience with these guys over the years. I stop my bluff and stand still. Then - very purposefully - I take one step back. Nothing happens, so I take another step back. Apparently that's clear enough; and off he goes.
My adrenaline is up, my hands are tingling - it's my hard-wired defense response - and it almost made me a bad guy.
I light up a smoke and exhale a long plum into the starry night, I survey my Kingdom.
I'll have to add another bungee cord to that garbage pale lid...
5/1/07 edited seo/mh