Bandit Alert! Raccoon Caught Mid-Theft!

Midnight at the Suburban Watering Hole.

In my recent post, “Suburban Watering Hole,” I was unsure if wet paw prints on the back deck belonged to an opossum or raccoon. It turns out they belong to both! How do I know? I happened to witness a raccoon eating from Midnight’s bowl! The bandit was caught red-handed–or should I say kibble-handed?!

Five funny things I observed:

  1. The raccoon didn’t eat from the bowl; instead it scooped up pawfuls of kibble and then brought them to its mouth to eat. So people-like.
  2. When I opened the door and said “hello,” the raccoon paused to check me out. It wasn’t really afraid, but then it was unsure and ran off. So curious. 
  3. The minute I closed the door, even though the raccoon could see me through the window, it returned. So determined. 
  4. Midnight wasn’t afraid of the raccoon at all! He sat and watched as it ate the remainder of his dinner. And the raccoon didn’t feel threatened by Midnight. So neighborly. 
  5. The raccoon was fluffy and many shades of gray. It’s “mask” fit perfectly over its eyes. So pretty.

You never know what you’ll see in the Wilds of New Jersey! 

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Suburban Watering Hole

Midnight at the Suburban Watering Hole.

One water bowl. So many sippers!

Who knew Midnight’s water bowl would attract so many animals? On any given day, I expect one, two, or even three stray cats to stop by. And sure, Lucy our barking, rambunctious beast (Midnight’s view of her), laps Midnight’s water, but why does she have to inhale the cat kibble, grab the dish, take a bite out of it, and scatter it willy nilly in the yard? Hon, I digress.

Back to the bowl.

I suspected extra visitors when the water in the bowl started, mysteriously, appearing dirty every morning. Who was washing paws or taking a bath in the bowl? Not the blue jays, who squawked and fought for a nibble of kibble during the day. Could it be mice? Chipmunks? Groundhogs? Foxes? Wild turkeys? Our neighborhood coyote?

Then, one morning, footprints were imprinted in the planks! “Aha!” I said, “Raccoons! So, I turned to authorities on the subject–umm, I mean the KidLit Twitter community–and asked,

“Are those footprints more than circumstantial evidence?”

“That raccoon was framed! If the pawprints don’t fit, you must acquit!” answered @BrobergMatthew.

(Hmm…much chin scratching.)

Later that night, I attempted to catch the culprits by flicking on the outdoor light. Who did I see but two opossums circling the food dish?! Not just any two opossums, but one enormous opossum mommy and her joey. The mommy was about the size of a twenty pound dog! Looking up the size of female opossums, I found out females aren’t that big. So, now I wonder…

…Do daddy oppossums take their joeys out for a midnight snack?!

Midnight the Barn Cat Needs a New Name

Midnight the Barn Cat is the newest addition to our household. As a young kitten, he’d shown up at a friend’s house in February. She not only fed him and created a winter shelter, she’d gotten him neutered and vaccinated. This summer, she searched for a new home for the approximately 8-month old kitten. She was moving  out of state and he wasn’t going with her.

Since I live in an historic Victorian farmhouse, circa 1882, I have a barn–albeit a small barn–that once housed a horse stall and still has a hayloft. It would be the perfect shelter for a partially socialized, soon-to-be-homeless kitten. Midnight the Barn Cat moved in.

So did raccoons! Every night, the raccoons had what I called “a party in the barn,” also known as a poop-fest! Yuck!

It’s not like I dislike raccoons; in fact, years ago when the triplets were babies, I bonded with a mommy raccoon who also had triplets. I’d wake up at the crack of dawn to feed my three infants at the same time a mommy raccoon was about to go to bed for the day. The raccoons’ tree stood near the window to my babies’ room and their “door” was wide open. The kits whined for one last drink, one last snack, and one last story. The mommy raccoon exhaustively begged her rambunctious babies to go the !*@#*! to bed.

And did you see my post, Coon Mama Jama, about trying to save a week-old, eyes-not-open-yet kit? But, I digress.

The raccoons in the barn ate Midnight the Barn Cat’s food, tramped their muddy feet over stored furniture and, worst of all, left their “evidence.” So, I cleaned up the mess and closed up the barn.

This is why Midnight the Barn Cat needs a new name!

Animal Kingdom in the Suburbs

Lucy loves sniffing and tracking the different animals that appear in our backyard.

Growing up in suburban Baltimore, I saw my share of squirrels,

North American Gray Squirrel

chipmunks,

Chipmunk

deer,

Whitetail Deer

moles,

Mole

and raccoons.

Raccoon

And although they weren’t seen much, skunks made their presence known.

Skunk

I had no idea that suburban New Jersey–directly west of Manhattan–would be home to all those animals and more. Recently, we received a new “visitor” to our backyard. It wasn’t this cute raccoon resting in a tree,

I spotted this raccoon high up in a tree and ran to get my camera.

or the opossum that chatters at night, 

Opossum

or the groundhog that tunnels under our yard,

Groundhog

or the wild turkey that displays its feathers for the ladies,

Wild turkey

or the Box Turtle that gave me a kiss, 

This box turtle showed up in my garden.

or the Red Fox we see at dawn and dusk, 

Red Fox

but–drumroll please–

Coyote

a COYOTE!

At first I thought it was a fox because it looked more like this, but redder.

Young coyote

I told my family, “It’s strange, I saw a Red Fox at ten in the morning.They’re usually asleep by then.”

The next day, Hubby said, “Come quick! There’s a coyote in our backyard!”

I said, “That’s the fox I saw!”

He said, “It’s a coyote!”

“A fox!”

“A coyote!”

“A fox!”

“It’s a coyote! I know from watching Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.”

Wile-e-Coyote and Roadrunner

Hon, do you see the resemblance? 

Tree Tops

The start of the ropes course.
The start of the ropes course.

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In the trees, I…

touch the blue sky,

trust and defy,

stop asking why.

Continuing down the poetry path with Tree Tops.  When I finished traversing the log and wires, peacefulness seeped into my soul. I decided that not only was I born in the wrong century, I was born in the wrong form.  Because amongst the branches, squirrels, birds and bugs, I left fear, worry and material things behind.

My true self, the one who is happy and curious, who is once again 10 and 11 years-old, hiking in the woods inhaling the scent of oak and sassafras, waking up smiling at the raccoon on her chest, counting the comets in an inky sky firefly-lit with constellations, who loves that Tonka, a baby goat, kisses her hair with his milky mouth, who is allowed to forge a new identity with a name she’s chosen herself and is therein called “Flower,” that girl believes in her poems, characters and stories.  She believes someone else will want to hear them, too,  But, in that treetop world, if the only ones who hear them are the squirrels, Robins, Daddy Long Legs and Praying Mantises, that’s okay because Mother Earth and Father Sky are listening and Mother Earth and Father Sky value that curious, happy girl.