Kathi Appelt‘s glorious book notwithstanding, I must confess that earlier this year, I’d about had it with raccoons. They dug up my newly planted flowers. They threw all the dirt onto the grass. They left big holes and plenty of scat in their wake. I was about ready to trap the vermin for tearing up my strawberry plants but then something happened.
A rustle in the yard, and some squeaking. I looked out. A raccoon mama was hurrying past, with a juvenile in tow. Their stripy tails twitched. The moment they realized they were being watched, they turned their faces toward me. It was an eye contact moment. Oh, I thought, you may be cute but can’t you go be cute somewhere else?
I moved toward the window, and instantly they were on alert. I was treated to a live animation of the expression “to turn tail.” Watching the tail-turning and the swift retreat, watching them scramble up the fence and over into the forest beyond, it struck me that in the moment we locked eyes, that baby raccoon and me, I was held hostage to cuteness.
Who was I to resent a little foraging, a little curiosity? A little grubbing around in the dirt?
I stuck the strawberries and the fuschia back in the ground, cleaned up the mess, and breathed deeply. And really, over the summer, everything grew just fine.
They’ll be back, I’m sure. But so what? I have turned tail, in a manner of speaking. We live on a planet that is in imminent danger of being controlled by us all the way to mass extinction of all life including our own. The least I can do is share my garden with a couple of raccoons.