By DARREN HANDSCHUH
Our home has been under attack lately.
There has been a series of stealthy, night-time assaults on our garbage cans by a renegade collection of critters we suspect are raccoons.
I think it was raccoons because we saw raccoon footprints in the snow. CSI eat your heart out.
For a while now the striped bandits have been knocking over our garbage cans and feasting on leftovers that I did not think were fit for man or beast.
It would seem a raccoon’s culinary standards are drastically lower than my own, leading me to think it would suck to be a raccoon.
It became tiresome to wake up in the morning, go to fetch the newspaper and find three bags of garbage spread all over the driveway.
Bad words formed in back of my mind every time I would see such an atrocity. Words such as ‘darn it’ and even ‘fiddle sticks’ were among the terms I felt like uttering.
To counter the scourge of the scavenging mammals, I took drastic and decisive action – I bought a garbage can with a lid.
Problem solved, and without bloodshed or the use of firearms and explosives, as was part of my original plan.
I now grab my morning paper from a garbage-free driveway, life is good.
However, we do share our home with a cat and the other day I came strolling up our driveway to find half of a mouse next to our van.
It was the lower half of a rodent which I assume was deposited by said cat.
I was going to grab a shovel and dispose of the remains, but I got busy and forgot.
The next day however, the carcass was gone thanks to those wonderful raccoons.
The same thing happened the next day and the woodland creatures were fast winning favour in my heart.
I have never had much interaction with raccoons, having rarely seen one before this year.
The first time I got a good look at a raccoon was several years ago when my wife and I were on a kid-less vacation.
We decided to go for a walk one evening through the quant little resort town simply because we could do so without a caravan of kids in tow.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw something crawling up a tree.
My first thought was, “That is the biggest squirrel I have ever seen in my life.”
I wondered if there was a nuclear plant nearby and had visions of an army of giant, mutated and generally agitated squirrels tearing through the town.
Just as I was about to run for my life from the flesh-rending creatures, a closer look revealed it was a raccoon and not a Chernobyl-sized cousin of Chip and Dale.
My wife found this whole thing quite amusing actually, as I explained my theory on mutated nut eaters and the peril we barely managed to avoid.
“How much wine did you have at supper?”
It had nothing to do with wine, but with survival.
Had it actually been a mutated, deformed squirrel, she would have appreciated my fast thinking and ninja-like reflexes.
In less than a second I had spotted the threat, determined it was a Jurassic squirrel and was ready to lead her to safety by showing the best way to escape from the fierce beast.
Is that cause for mockery? A little I guess.
I would like to blame my jittery nerves on a traumatic childhood incident with a member of Mother Nature’s home team, but there were none.
Growing up, we lived in the sticks so there was an abundance of wildlife all around, and I loved it.
Deer were as common as zits on a teen. We also had a few resident bears that would leave bear landmines in our yard. Fortunately they were easy to spot because they were roughly the size of a 1968 VW Beetle.
I also had encounters with porcupines, bush rats – which were big, nasty creatures – and a whole pack of coyotes could regularly be spotted on the hillside behind the homestead just about every morning.
It’s amazing our cat died of natural causes at almost 14 years old and didn’t wind up being a coyote pate.
There was also an abundance of snakes. They were mostly grass snakes, but there was also the occasional rattle snake sunning itself on the nearby mountain side.
How cool is that.
But something I do not recall is raccoons.
We had a compost bin that would attract coyotes and bush rats, but none of the masked mammals.
I now live in a regular suburban type neighbourhood and we are infested with raccoons. Well, if one or two can be considered an infestation.
I saw one in the middle of the day, calmly walking down the road next to a local school, with out a care in the world, heading to his next dinning experience no doubt, which proves man and animals can live together, just make sure your garbage can has a lid.