Thursday, July 06, 2006

I Dream of Mammals

I had a dream about raccoons last night.

When I lived in Toronto and was a smoker, I lived in a rooming house on Spadina Rd. Not wanting to smoke in my tiny bachelor, I’d go out the back door and sit on the fire escape. It was covered by an awning of green corrugated fiberglass. There were about 6 steps down, and then a 7-foot fence a few feet away from the base of the stairs. On the other side of the fence was a huge tree. Oak, I think. It was a shady, cool, protected spot, and even though it belonged to the whole building, it felt like it was privately mine.

Sitting out there one night, finishing a cigarette and daydreaming, I heard a rustling in the tree. Out came the biggest damn raccoon I’d ever seen. She stopped and eyed me – on the fence, she was level with me on the top step. I eyed her and stayed very still, not knowing how to anticipate the reaction of a 40 pound feral scavenger. I guess she figured I was okay, ‘cause she turned and ambled along the fence rail. More rustling in the trees and out popped her litter – 5 of them, all wobbling along behind her. Each of them stopping to put a beady eye on me to suss out my intentions before moving off after mom.

It was pretty amazing, and I sat there for a long time feeling happy to have had a little corner of the world that was just me and the animals, each doing our own thing.

The main thrust of the dream was fed by this experience, though the dream coon was 65 pounds – the size of a large beaver, according to a friend of a friend, which was a surprising enough figure to show up in my dream.

In the dream, the raccoon was climbing laboriously/slowly gliding down from the tree behind the fence in my current backyard to land on the roof of a concrete bunker. Which was also the lean-to off my kitchen, where I store my bike, and though the bunker was the wrong shape, size and in the wrong location I knew it was also the lean-to.

This morning I rode my bike to work. While fiddling with my panniers on the back porch, I kept hearing this strange bleat/coo/chirp. And then I saw shaking in the tree. And then a baby raccoon tentatively stepped from the tree onto the fence.

“Sweetie,” I said, “You should be in bed by now.”

It turned and looked rather imploringly at me, like it was about to climb down the fence and come over, like I was its mom and might put it to bed. At that point, me and my healthy respect for the unpredictability of nature and feral animals turned tail and biked off.

I do hope that baby found its mom. Who maybe weighs 65 pounds, or the size of a large beaver.

1 comment:

David Scrimshaw said...

From Hinterland Who's Who

The common raccoon Procyon lotor is probably best known for its mischievous-looking black face mask. Raccoons are usually a grizzled grey in colour with a tail marked by five to 10 alternating black and brown rings. Body coloration can vary from albino, (white) to melanistic (black) or brown. An annual moult, or shedding, of the fur begins in the spring and lasts about three months.

The head is broad with a pointed snout and short rounded ears measuring 4 to 6 cm. The eyes are black. Total body and tail length for adults averages 80 cm; males are generally 25 percent larger than females. Raccoons in northern latitudes tend to be heavier (6 to 8 kg) than their southern counterparts (4 kg). However, fall weights for adults have reached 28 kg in some areas. (28 * 2.2 = 61.6 lbs)

Video Here