May. 6, 2015

All God's Creatures Large and Small

“We need to put all the raccoons in jail. They need to be taught a lesson!” Riley Miller

The May issue of Sunset Magazine has a section devoted to camping, a portion of which was entitled, “Every camper’s nemesis: the raccoon.”  Having camped for many years, seeing marvelous sights involving all God’s creatures large and small, like the dozens of deer we saw in Yosemite’s Tuolomne Meadows, leaping and bounding across the meadow as cars passed by without even giving them a glance, while we sat across the road, captivated, speechless with wonder. Like the bear brushing against the side of our tent while our children slept and we turned terrified eyes on each other. All before we realized that “camping” really means a hotel without room service. In all our camping adventures we never saw one raccoon. Not one. And we know why. They’re way too smart to be hanging around the mountains and woods. They’re living down here in the suburbs with us.

We never had much contact with these guys, so adorable with their little bandit masks, until our youngest daughter decided to have her wedding reception at her very own home in her very own backyard, which made her very own parents realize they needed to DO SOMETHING about that yard, which was pretty much a jungle. About this same time, a century old rubber tree collapsed under its own weight, taking out a retaining wall. We got out the checkbook and called a landscaper. The wall was rebuilt with rose bushes behind it, the pool fence moved back to create a lawn area by the pool and the sod company installed rolls of sod. About a week after all this gorgeous sod was tamped into place, we came out to find that it had been ripped right out of the ground and several of the rolls had been rolled up again. Mystified, we consulted our landscaper who shook his head and said, “Raccoons. I was hoping they wouldn’t find you.”

The war was on. Us against the raccoons who thought the grubs and bugs under our new sod were gourmet fare. We grew to hate them as we tried one ineffective measure after another. Night after night they came. We installed floodlights. They danced in the beams. We put in alarms. They laughed. We bought and sprayed coyote scent, which costs about the same as Chanel #5, but smells truly terrible. They rolled in it. We conceded defeat when I found myself standing outside our back door lobbing rocks at them at three in the morning, weeping with frustration. The little stinkers, who had just enjoyed a refreshing dip in the pool, stood up revealing that they were a good three feet tall, looked at me with narrowed eyes, and headed my way. Needless to say, I beat a hasty retreat but I could hear them snickering as I slammed the door.

Sunset Magazine says: Do not think you are faster or smarter than raccoons. They got that right. So each day we would tamp the sod down again, water it, and hope someone else would put in a new lawn. The grass survived, the wedding was lovely, the reception fabulous. We still have occasional raccoon encounters. We never win. We discovered a family of them were living under our garage. John bought a special raccoon trap, guaranteed to catch your raccoon without hurting him. We baited it with peanut butter on toast, lightly buttered, and caught…our neighbor’s cat. We caught a skunk, and had to call the Humane Society to take it away. But never a raccoon. The last resident under our garage was a fox who would venture out into the neighborhood every evening around cocktail time, check out what was going on and even he eventually found a more exciting place to live.

Battling raccoons without the right equipment (possibly one’s own mountain lion) is kind of like trying to live in today’s world without the right equipment, i.e., the full armor of God!

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”  Ephesians 6:13-18

Way better than your own mountain lion!