It's 5 degrees outside. Brrrr. But yesterday it was above freezing and the snow melted enough so that I could identify the animal tracks in the backyard. Once the fluffiness of the several inches of old snow started melting, I could see the foot impressions left when they originally compacted the snow in the ground. I saw lots and lots of telltale little handprints...a lot! It was raccoon craziness all over the perimeter of the yard. There were prints leading to and leaving the elm...tracks indicating that some time was spent under the deck...but absolutely no raccoon footprints on the steps leading up the deck, or any footprints on the deck. Who knows if I'll ever see Freddie again. If those tracks came from Freddie, he's listened to his momma who told him to stay off the deck. And he definitely has.......he just has been everywhere else in my backyard.
Anyway, the little guy is still in my thoughts, as well as raccoons in general. This week I learned of another person (where I work) who grew up with a raccoon.
This raccoon came to live with the family when he was a baby and was this person's brother's favorite pet growing up. Her brother spent a lot of time with the raccoon which she thinks is why this raccoon was so gentle for all of its life. The raccoon liked to sit on the back of her brother's shoulders and rest his chin on her brother's head when they went walking. The kids would take the raccoon to the creek and let him catch crayfish. They would also walk with him to the local stores. It seemed like that raccoon went everywhere those kids went. Their dad built a large fenced pen around some trees in the backyard and put several doghouses in the trees for this raccoon. But when it got cold in the winter, her brother would bring the raccoon into the house at night and it would sleep at the foot of his bed. Bandit was a very, very smart and gentle raccoon that lived over twenty years with that family. When her brother left home to go to college, she inherited the raccoon who then lived with her. The person who told me this story obviously loved that raccoon very much. She said that Bandit's hands were the most amazing things to feel and that she liked to take the paws and hold them against her face because they were so soft.
I thought that was such a sweet story but, she had another one(!).
Her father took a three week painting workshop in the Catskills a long time ago and since he wanted as much time as he could get to paint, he set up a painting tent to continue his painting at night. While he was painting one night, he felt a tug on his paintbrush and when he looked down, it was a young raccoon who had grabbed it. He gave the raccoon whatever was leftover from an earlier snack and so started the visits every night when he was painting. Every night the raccoon would return and tug on his paintbrush to let him know he was there and then her father would give him some food which he would carry away to his siblings who were less bold.
I just love stories like that. I don't expect Freddie to move in but it would be nice to know that he's still out there and is safe.
Here's a picture of little Freddie taken over a month ago when he was waiting for the "food lady" to notice him and bring him something good to eat...on a plate, of course.
And a close-up of his face with an odd expression because he was trying to avoid the flash of my camera.
Miss that little dude. I keep saying that but I still mean it.