Saturday, August 1, 2009

Raccoons | Wild Lives . 1

The raccoons are back. And not scrawny, skimpy specimens like the one above captured from Wikipedia. Big, fat, lumbering coons.

I knew they were around and was just waiting to see a bandit mask in my window around 3 AM. Raccoons are nocturnal of course and the one's in our neighborhood, being city slickers, seem to favor particularly late night hours for visiting. After all the trash cans close perhaps.

Anyway, I knew they were around because raccoons sing, although that may be a kind assessment of their vocal abilities. In any case, they vocalize, as the shriek of hawks is described in bird books. They speak, and often they seem to have lots to say. They say a lot anyway.

How would you describe it? Well the first time I heard them I was absolutely nonplussed and had no idea what I was hearing. It sounded like an unleashed symphony of jungle fauna, from monkeys to macaws with a blues-like call and response thing happening back and forth across the yard. Later that night they were sitting and chattering in the grape vine that runs up the side of the building, stuffing their fat faces as fast as they could and I figured it out.

Coons, first described by Christopher Columbus, are now successful urban strivers much like Canada Geese and Red-tailed Hawks. They are co-dependants of our ecological niche and one of the most versatile animals in their food tastes and shopping habits. Although reportedly fastidious in washing food stuffs, essentially they'll eat anything that moves - or doesn't. The dictionary definition of omniverous has a raccoon face next to it - or surely should.

My favorite raccoon story goes as follows. I got a call from a client - back when I was a designer and builder - about a foul liquid pouring in through and collapsing their kitchen ceiling. Inspection below the roof deck above revealed that a coon had made the spot his bathroom and, being a careful creature as mentioned, tried to bury the poop by scraping his sharp claws through the rubber roof.

... To be continued.