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Raccoon, Secrets of a Familiar Neighbor
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The San Francisco Public Library comes through again. Even remotely, the program directors have an inside track on what’s affecting us and making our lives difficult. They’re dedicated to answering our questions and bringing much-needed help.

Presentation: Raccoon, Secrets of a Familiar Neighbor
11:00 am to noon, Saturday, 10/23/2021
Virtual Library, SFPL
“Megan Isadore, wildlife ecologist, teaches us all about the masked Bay Area resident, Raccoons, and how humans and raccoons can peacefully coexist. Isadore worked with raccoons as a wildlife rehabilitation specialist, has run a wildlife/human mediation advice line and now heads the River Otter Ecology Project.”

Saturdays, for me, are typically busy, but I’m going to squeeze in this presentation before lunch or anything else. I’m expecting Megan to share her expertises on wildlife and advise me – personally and up close – on how to peacefully coexist with our very own midnight marauder because he/she is upsetting my life.

Last year, we spied a “ginormous” (that’s toddler talk) raccoon walking the perimeter of the backyard, balancing delicately on the fence tops like a tightrope walker without a net. We named it, sentimentally, “Rocky Raccoon” (homage to Beatles) and daily watched its antics. My grandsons and I would stand at the open kitchen patio door, bang on pots and pants with wooden spoons, and yell, “Go away” as Rocky surveyed our back porch. Our neighbors seemed more perturbed than Rocky, who would turn toward us lazily as if to say, “Hey, what’s up?” before sauntering away and jumping into Jackson’s vegetable garden on the other side of the fence. Our Victory garden was already gone; we had uprooted our zucchini and tomatoes to throw the local gourmand off course.

Then one morning as I stood at the window I watched Rocky, mistakenly identified as he/him, appear on the south-side wall with a kit gingerly tagging along behind. When the mother and baby reached the corner, she grabbed the kit with her teeth and lifted it up in her mouth to the next high-wire walk. It was endearing at the moment, tugging briefly at my grandmother-ish heartstrings.

Now a year later, we think Rocky, or more appropriately Rockette, is back. Sometimes, late at night, I wake up with a start and spring out of bed, run to the patio window, and flip on the light in a futile attempt to scare her. To catch her in the act, threaten her with my ire, and force behavior change. We haven’t had a visual sighting yet, but we see her dirty paw prints with a claw at the end of each finger tracking across the toy box that she uses as a springboard to invade plant beds and playground. If we forget to empty and turnover the children’s pool, it’s evident that Rocky has enjoyed a long soak sans bubble bath in the dark with stars overhead.

Before my grandson can water play the next morning, I put on my COVID gloves and mask up to spray down the pool with disinfectant, suds it up and scrub thoroughly, and rinse away the evidence, the residue, the chance bacteria that can endanger humans. I resent the intrusion as much as the inconvenience. I fume over the caution so necessary for our safety.

Last Friday, I inspected my garden – as all good gardeners do on a regular rotation. To my alarm, I discovered the pine fern, a newly planted podocarpus, flat on the ground, deformed and lifeless. Chewn leaves were surrounded the corpse and dahlia blooms, munched off at the base, were strewn by the graveside.

“That’s it,” I screamed. “Go away and stay away, Rocky. I never want to see you again.”

I’m ordering sun-powered motion-sensitive lights to jolt Rocky out of her darkened jaunts. I’m throwing jagged rocks on her foot paths to irritate her sensitive paws. I red pepper the winding trails she makes around my endangered plants. I’m constructing a maze of bamboo sticks in lieu of corn stocks and installing Halloween scarecrows with eyes that shine in the dark.

Megan better get here soon to intervene and avert any further violence. I’m bat-crazy out of my mine and fighting mad.

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