Love for the Raccoon
Raining! Can you believe it? A soft, light, Celtic rain, gray and green were the colors of the day. Well, to be honest, it felt better to have a temperature of 61 after nearly 10 days of a Californian heat wave with temperatures nudging 100. We went down to feed the feral cats by the creek, as we usually do after nightfall. We go through an area near the mail boxes, a place that has an old wooden shed surrounded by broken down refrigerators and approach the edge of a tangle of creepers, wild bushes, long grass and ancient oaks separated from us by a chain link fence.
This place has a strange atmosphere, as if the knotted oaks might house a goblin, a sprite or elf or two. Further down, where the ground slips away to the creek, we hear the customary sounds–the murmur of the creek slipping by, occasional snaps of twigs being broken and something scurrying off in the darkness.
We go up to the gate, pull out the empty dishes and put down new ones full of tuna and kibble. Only one cat was hovering nearby.
Where is everyone? My torch catches eyes gazing up from the creek's shadowy depths. We take a good look, and Stephanie says it's a raccoon. She points out that raccoons love cat kibble. London born, I'm not too familiar with the American raccoon, let alone their likes and dislikes. We cause a slight disturbance to scare him away, and as he turns, we see the rings on his lush tail.
Very soon, we have a gaggle of cats munching nervously away. I try to peer down into the creek through the fence, but am met with darkness. I am not sure if any human goes down to the creek, too knotted and tangled, it's a jungle, where you would have to hack your way through. I like it that way. People, I think, would destroy its atmosphere and upset all the teeming animal and bird life. Stephanie thinks that the cats may be in danger. We weighed the pros and cons of feeding or not feeding, lest the food might be attracting danger to them, and decide on a strategy of feeding on our side of the fence. The cats adjust to this quite readily, they know places where the fence is just loose enough for a cat to squeeze through, or under.
This worked for a time, but one night, as we laid out food for the feral cats, in the glow of our torches we noticed glowing eyes looking up at us from far below where the ground falls sharply away down to the creek. A pair of eyes began to approach, we felt a little nervous, remembering stories about mountain lions falling on hapless hikers. It was only one of the cats, we saw with relief. But there was something more–it was the raccoon again, dramatic black masking around his eyes, giving him the look of a highwayman. He was following just behind the cat, who seemed oblivious of him. As we watched, he cautiously approached, getting nearer the cat.
Frightened that the raccoon might attack the cats, Stephanie tried to shoo him off. The approaching cat shooed very nicely, almost leaping into the raccoon's arms. Shooing was obviously not the way. The cat, getting up its nerve again, came a little reproachfully for his food.
We saw the raccoon beginning to approach again and I tossed a few stones into the wild tangle of roots and branches, to scare him off. This also alarmed the cats, who fled in many directions until the ruckus was over, then returned timidly for their dinner. The raccoon backed down, but did not disappear this time. His movements were oddly graceful, and as I shone my torch, I saw that he had only one eye. The cats, who returned to their food, did not seem unduly concerned, so we left it like that, and returned to the apartment.
Later that night in bed, I started thinking about the raccoon and was sorry I had tried to scare him off. I began to feel a love and concern for this one eyed raccoon, who had appeared from the dark and cavernous wilds of the creek. Stephanie smiled and said this was a Subud feeling.
The heat has knocked us out today and none of the things l intended to do (like getting to grips with HTML and serious computer work) have I done, so this day has gone down the Swanee completely!
Later on, at feeding time, this time on the jungle side of the fence, we watched a little nervously, as the raccoon shyly joined the cats. He was very polite about it, when one of the cats raised a paw at him, he didn't seem to mind. He ate with scrupulous good manners, picking up the pieces of cat kibble, bringing them to his mouth with his tiny nimble fingers.
He seemed to be saying, "You see, although I am a wild animal, I can be polite. And I sure can use this food, what with my one eye. I am grateful. And I wouldn't kill a cat, no, I would never do that."
So far, none of the cats have gone missing. One of the cats has even began to imitate him, scooping up the food with outstretched claws, and bringing paw to mouth.