Operation: Raccoon

In our German Village home, we are snug in the middle of an urban area.  We’ve got squirrels by the score and lots of birds, but that’s about it on the wildlife scale.  The last raccoon probably exited German Village in or about 1920.

662480_101In Stonington, on the other hand, we’re much closer to woodlands and other areas where the deer and the raccoons play.  And that means we need to start thinking, with laser-like focus, on a key issue:  raccoons and garbage.  Specifically, how do you keep devilishly clever and creative critters, with very nimble, hand-like paws, from getting into your garbage and spreading every disgusting, smelly, damp, coffee ground-covered item all over your driveway and yard that you then have to pick up and rebag in the morning?

We’ve had to up our game in the trash management department.  At first, we just put the lid on our trash can.  The raccoons saw this lame attempt and no doubt howled with derision, alerted every other raccoon in the area to join the party, promptly removed the lid, and spread the trash around with reckless abandon.  Then we locked the lid using handles.  The raccoons again chuckled at our ineptitude, knocked over the trash can to free up the trash again, and had a high time cavorting in the refuse.  Then we used a pulled-taut bungee cord to lock down the garbage can lid so tightly that it was difficult for even us to open it.  The raccoons paused briefly that night, perhaps briefly applauded our more meaningful attempt with their little paws, and then battered the garbage can around and rolled it across the driveway until the bungee cord was loosened and they could get at that delicious garbage once more.

Picking up gross garbage isn’t much fun.  The first time, you might ruefully acknowledge the raccoons’ ingenuity, but by clean-up attempt number four you’re cussing the sight and the smell and vowing to outsmart those little bastards at all costs.  So now we’ve moved the trash can, with full bungee cord and locking handle protection, behind the fencing under the deck and locked the gate.  This morning I went out with some trepidation to see whether the raccoons had figured out a way to access the trash, but — so far at least — the garbage is secure and the lawn shone with dewy pristineness.

I know those conniving creatures are out there somewhere, plotting their next move in this colossal chess match, with garbage as the ultimate prize.  Bring it, raccoons!  It’s on!

The Raccoon Beneath The Grate

A raccoon, and perhaps a family of raccoons, appears to live in the storm sewers in our neighborhood.

Once, on a morning walk, I saw a hunched shape scrabbling across the street and toward the sewer grate in the pre-dawn darkness.  The raccoon plunged into the sewer.  When we passed by a few moments later, it was there, wearing its mask, perched just beneath the grate, its beady black eyes glittering with the reflected light from a nearby street lamp.  The dogs lunged toward it, and it vanished.

The encounter gave me the creeps.  I have no interest in dealing with potentially rabid creatures, and I don’t like the idea of raccoons using the storm sewer as a kind of vagabond superhighway underneath our neighborhood.  Now, whenever I pass the sewer, I can’t help but look to see whether those black eyes are there, staring back.  Usually they aren’t, and I start to think that perhaps the raccoon is gone.  But every once in a while the eyes are there again, following our movements as we quicken the pace to get past the grate, and I shudder anew.

I don’t remember my dreams when I awaken, but I’d be willing to bet that those beady black eyes through the sewer grate have appeared in a nightmare or two.