I probably could have anticipated that a bra-stealing raccoon would adopt our little cabin in the Oregon woods.
Certainly the pets of my own childhood in Canada foreshadowed my habit of attracting odd behaving creatures.
There was my Persian cat Peter who made a point twice a year to prove she most definitely was not male as we had thought. She delivered eight to 12 kittens at a time, preening and strutting around her new brood after their first meal at her side. The look on her up-tilted face challenged us to bow in honor to her prolific femaleness.
We did honor her very female abilities and so did the neighborhood. Her kittens were prized by the elderly English ladies and gents who had immigrated to our community years before. A lap cat was the perfect company for them as they had tea and crumpets.
Aside from being cuddly, the kittens were outstanding mouse catchers. Housewives lined up for the kittens in that pre DECON era.
Peter, who we started calling Petie, did not like having her kittens taken away. She began hiding them all over the house as they got older. On several occasions we saw her trotting down the sidewalk back from a neighbor’s house with an almost full grown cat in her mouth.
My dad wanted to have her fixed after the first litter but he was out-voted by his three daughters and wife. Eventually even we agreed that it was best.
When we got her fixed she began to mother my dolls and stuffed animal. She would lick them and wrapped her body around them. She even brought bird parts and bits of her cat food to them.
I don’t think she trusted me to keep my hands off the treats because she hid the food under the dolls, the quilts and in the corners. She stood guard when I tried to find the stinky offerings, looking offended when I tossed them out.
We had other creatures including a blue budgie with an ability to mimic us perfectly. The budgie was once again named Pete though we were never sure of its gender.
Pete liked to show off his mimicking ability at all the wrong times. In the middle of a party he would mimic my dad Dick Massy saying “Do the dishes Pat.” Then he would mimic my mom Pat saying “Shut up Dick.” Of course my parents had been joking when they first said that but couldn’t convince the party visitors. The visitors would wink and say “sure you were” as my very proper mom would blush.
I never did have another bird as a child or later when Bruce and I married. Little children with big ears and bigger mouths were quite enough to spread the family tales.
After Bruce and I built our cabin in the woods we found ourselves being adopted by a variety of cats, dogs, raccoons, skunks and possums. .. oh and a couple of bears.
Mostly the cats and dogs were ones that city folk dropped off in the country. The creatures would wonder up the hill to our place, bedraggled and hungry. Of course we couldn’t say no. Four young sons can be as persuasive as three daughters who tackled my dad years ago. “Please let them stay. Please.”
Other creatures like Rocky the Robber Raccoon descended on us from the forest. Actually Rocky tried to crawl through a hole in our floor.
We had lots of holes on and off as Bruce added rooms to our house. A baby would be born or a son would become a teenager and more room would be needed. During the construction phases pipes would be moved or wood stoves rearranged. For a while there would be holes in the floor where a pipe used to be.
Normally we covered then right up but one night Bruce was too tired after a long day of construction and the hole he had made did not seem all that big. We would cover the hole tomorrow we decided.
Bruce sat down and promptly fell asleep in the chair by the wood stove. Our four sons were already reading in bed upstairs, kerosene lamps creating warm shadows to lull them to sleep.
The house was quiet at last.
I heated water on the wood stove for a bath, relishing the idea of reading a book while soaking in the old tin tub by the fire.
We eventually had a real bath tub but for years our children and we used a variety of tin tubs to soak in. Some were small and others were big enough to stretch out in like something out of a western movie. The best part was the warmth by the cook stove or the wood stove in the winter.
That night I lit lamps, poured water and stepped into a big tin tub. The heat of the wood stove radiated, making me warm and relaxed.
I knew better than to put my clothes on the floor but that night I did.
Just as I was relaxing I caught a flash of white and black sticking out of the hole in the floor. Before I could respond a raccoon’s hand shot up out of the hole, feeling around in circles on the floor. It stretched like a Gumby doll, snatching my bra and pulling it into the hole.
I leaped from the tub, wrapping a towel around me with one hand and grabbing for the bra with the other.
My shrieks brought the boys tumbling downstairs, laughing in delight at the scene that awaited them.
Mom was in a tug of war with a raccoon.
Bruce woke and started laughing too.
I am glad to report I won the tug of war though I lost a bit of my dignity.
NEXT CHAPTER: A Christmas tale of the robber raccoon
(c)shaun brink 2015
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contact Shaun directly if you wish to copy or use any sections or photos in this blog
MY STORY OF LIVING WITH BEARS,KEROSENE LAMPS AND FROZEN WATER LINES
My story- Chapter One
My story part two – 30 years without electricity
My story part three -making of a tough old broad
My story part four -the raccoon and other tales
My story part five – a Christmas tale of the robber raccoon