Evening, the competing crickets sing in the yard. I’m waiting for husband to come home. Reading, but not with full attention, listening for the opening of the door and the whirr of the gears as he wheels his bicycle into the workshop. Should have left the light on. But as the thought crosses my mind, even as I reach for a bookmark, I hear sounds. Not the right ones.
Grunts and squeaks and rustles? Is there a dog in the outer passageway that runs past the workshop? Was that a tiny squeal? No, a chirr.
Book slapped down, on my feet. I open the door to the passageway, flick on the lights. Nothing.
I jump. A sudden blur of brownish fur and a rake of claws on concrete; it’s a bunny-sized raccoon. Two – bowling down the passageway from the workshop to the open door. What have they been doing? Number three, running so fast I can’t believe he’s making much contact with the floor. Little fat bandits, ringed tails stiff with fright behind them. Four. Five. Silence.
I turn on the light in the workshop and step back fast as another bundle of fur zings past. Quiet again. I step in, glance about the workshop and there’s the answer. We’d stored our cat food in a container there by the band saw. Some little rascal pried the lid off the canister. A feast for raccoon kits.
That’s when I hear it.
One more kit, left behind. He rises to his haunches, little paws pushing at the air for balance, growls at me. Ferocious burbling growls. Snarls. I interpret: “Don’t touch me. I’m mean, I’m fierce. I’ll eat your liver!“
But he won’t look at me. He’s toddling along on his hind legs, making himself as gigantic as he can, threatening me with all his might, but he has his head turned away, deliberately, looking at the wall, at the bandsaw, rigidly refusing to meet my eyes. I interpret: “I’m really dangerous but… I’m not challenging you, I’m fearsome and terrible but I respect you, really, I do!“
I hold in a giggle. I’m sure it’s bad karma to insult a young raccoon by laughing at him. I step back so I’m not between him and the door, move even further away. He drops to all fours, hits the concrete already in motion and the last blur of raccoon vanishes out the floor with a skid of claws.
Now I can laugh.