Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You would be surprised how heavy a wet raccoon can be.

I've been pretty busy these last few weeks. Seems like there are a lot of things coming around the corner to prepare for. College means... well... COLLEGE. Though after this summer, I think political science is going to be a pretty fun class. I haven't had many complications registering, unlike prior semesters. Though with college also comes the goodbyes as me girlfriend, best friends and I all go our ways.

On a lighter note, this Saturday is my grandmother's 94th birthday. Amber and I have been cleaning up her patio area and garden and it has given us something to get a lot of projects around the house done by. So when I've not been in town on errands, it's been a mix of cleaning this or that, and writing various things for my own projects, that I'd like to get as much of out of the way before the semester heats up as I can.

So yesterday evening, around seven, my eyes were getting sore from burying my head in monitors and books/printouts. A good walk outside was needed to clear my head. After a stroll to the deer ravaged tomato garden and back, I went down to look at the condition of the swimming pool.

The swimming pool is worthy of an entire blog entry of its own. This summer, more than any I can recall in several years, it has brought us far more stress than I care to expound upon. Do to various complications last summer, the pool had been drained, and at some point in it's gradual refilling a squirrel feel in and downed, resulting in several rips the lining that led to rather expensive refills all ending in vain. Subsequently, the massive leaking has eroded much of the sand underneath the pool.

Visiting the pool I found two things of note. One was that the rainwater had generally accumulated to more than a foot in depth, and the other was a large raccoon sitting on a high point from the erosion. He had found a place where he could rest on his butt and keep his head out of the water.

I love raccoons. They are one of my favorite animals. Ever since I was little and played with a bunch of them (which yes, I now know was not a very smart thing to do) on the back dock of a riverside restaurant in Florida I've loved how expressive they can be. Notably their paws which one used to hold my hand while it stood up on its hind legs to take a piece of bread that I offered it.

This particular raccoon did not look happy. Not rabid unhappy or terrified, it was just exhausted and miserable form being stuck in the green water for what I imagine had been the whole day. It was a little nervous about me but remained passive. Trying to find something to get it out with that wouldn't add to the already pretty ruined pool liner's damage, I decided to give the pool strainer a try. The raccoon at first was not found of this idea but never panicked nor bared its teeth at me. It pretty quickly, to my amazement, figured out I was trying to help it. So it grabbed the end of the strainer with its front paws, and then I learned something... a fully gown healthy sized (probably 30lbs.) raccoon, that is soaking wet, hanging from the end of a ten-foot aluminum pole... is surprisingly heavy. Not to mention he was at the bottom of a four-foot pool, adding an awkward angle to the ordeal. To simply lift him out of the water was a choir in itself, and once I got him a foot above it, the poor creature made the mistake of sneezing and trying to shake a little of the water off its coat. This resulted in a quick return to the water, though I was able to prevent it from being a full on fall by bringing the strainer down with him. I immediately assumed the raccoon would have had enough of me after that, but he seemed only the more eager. He kept eye contact with me the whole time with a completely understanding expression. I'm not sure what I was saying out loud and what I was thinking, but it seemed to follow pretty well. This time put its arms over the near end of the strainer and round the pole while its hind feet held the front rim, where its from paws had prior. This was much more stable arrangement. It held tight with this look of don't drop me again. So slowly over a period of several minutes of straining I gradually lifted him up, contently wondering if the plastic strainer head would hold with that much raccoon on it.

In the end it did hold and the little guy was hoisted to the deck. He let go of the pole and looked at me for a moment. I hadn't really planned what would happen next, and though the animal showed no distinct signs of rabies, I was standing between it and the only exit. Instead after nervously looking at me for a few minutes with a very similar expression on its face, the raccoon turn around and scurried to the opposite side of the deck where it squeezed between the fence posts. Unfortunately, as I said, this was a rather large raccoon and as a result its posterior caught between said posts. The side of the deck where it was attempting to escape was about four or five feet from the ground. Thus, the poor critter was hanging by its ass. This was not its lucky day.

By the time I got around to the other end it successfully loosened itself and grabbed hold of a small sapling. We exchanged looks one last time, then it disappeared under the deck.

On my way back I noticed Fletcher approaching the pool with somewhat of a fightin' look to him. I quickly snatched him up and went up the driveway. This pissed him off and he gave me a couple threatening nips, but after years of holding this cat down while Amber cleaned out its many wounds, we have a kind of understanding. I called his bluff, knowing he wouldn't break my skin, and he protested all the way up the driveway.

In one last stoke of the surreally comical, a small brown bird stood still in the driveway. I figured it would fly away as we approached, but much like a rabbit it stiffened up. Only it did move its head and seemed to watch us with a kind of subtle amazement as Fletcher growled in my arms at me. I guess the little fella had never seen a cat scooted off from a fight before.

High Rotation:

Muddy Waters - Electiric Mud

Skip James - Delta Blues

Frank Black - Fastman Raiderman

Paul Curreri - From Long Gone To Hawkmoth

Thelonious Monk - Solo Monk


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