Sunday, July 31, 2011

Raccoons

The Monterey County Weekly's cover story this week was about the ever present raccoons that prowl The Peninsula. 

I remember my first encounter with a raccoon when I was three or four years old. It was at the Little Red School House, better known as Bay School, in Carmel. This was in the early 1960s. Someone brought a raccoon to show us kids. The one thing that fascinated me the most was their hands. yes, hands, not paws. They are miniature versions of human hands, complete with opposable thumbs. Interesting creatures indeed! 

Three or four years later I learned something else about raccoons. I woke up one morning to get ready for school and saw a huge smear of blood on our sliding glass door. And more blood all over the patio of our home in the forest overloooking Hatton Canyon. It was a disturbing sight to say the least. 

I asked my mother what happened. She said raccoons had attacked our dog Monty in the middle of the night. My dad had to use a shotgun to scare them off and he rushed Monty to the vet first thing in the morning. I slept right through it. 

Thus I learned that raccoons cute faces are deceptive, that they can be quite dangerous. I thought back to that cute creature with the tiny hands at school, and had some trouble reconciling that with the blood-smeared patio.

Ever since, I've had a healthy respect for raccoons. I've encountered a few over the years, and I always give them a wide berth. Sometimes they appear non-threatening and they ignore me. I met one such family about twenty years ago when I worked at the Golden Bough Cinema in Carmel. They would climb onto the roof and eat the bugs that were hiding in the shingles. Other times, they'll act more intimidating, like when they run down our driveway and one stops to stand up and say "Stay back, Mister!"

I always do.

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