Evening Ritual of the Masked Intruder

racoons

“Oh look, shhh….you’ll scare her!”

Lurking in the tall grass beside the back porch, a face protrudes cautiously.  Laughter and loud talking from within the house have cause this grey and black masked face to arch further higher, until its body is but partially covered by the grass.  The voices stop, and slowly the body becomes visible to the now quiet group, standing in awe of one of nature’s wild creatures.

“Robby the Robber” has come again on her nightly marshmallow and cookie raid to our home in our small rural suburb, where she will come to the sliding door for her routine 10 p.m. feeding.  Delicately removing the bits of food handed to her, the black eyes never move off the large human form in front of her, every wary.  From the hand-like paws, long nails that could deter any predator dissect each morsel of food.

The movements are not quick, but slow and sure as she takes the food.  Needle-sharp nails never scratch or hurt the out-stretched human hand, but softly caress, ever slowly and cautiously, easing the food away instead of snatching.  The musty wild smell of this grey furry form, coupled with the largeness of the body, send chills down the feeder’s arm, which is unprotected as it’s protruding from the door.  But the quiet gentle way of her movements arrests any thoughts of fear.  Human and wild animal touch for a second in the night, and are friends.  The human yearns to run fingers along the back of this beautiful creature, but knowing it could change this perfect moment in time, holds back the desire.

Soft cooing noises and more cookies make her return again and again until she has had her fill, then slowly she stalks back towards the darkness.

At the edge of the shadows she stops, gracefully pulling herself into a standing position on hind legs and surveys the drive-in window where food is always available.  Hanging from below her belly are tiny spigots, still moist from babies suckling.  A brood that must be hidden somewhere deep in the woods await Mother’s return, so they may feast again.

Standing there in absolute stillness, she seems to say, “Don’t forget to leave me something, I’ll be back tomorrow night.”

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