While there has never been a shortage of wildlife around my house, it seems that the population is steadily growing. There is not a whole lot of new development in this area; otherwise an influx of animal life would be expected. Regardless, as I am pro-environment and subsequently enjoy animals the new visitors are welcome.
Except in the middle of the night. I am by no means a light sleeper, but over the past several weeks I have been risen in the wee hours of the morning by the sounds of animals getting into brawls. Mind you, this is not like a dog barking six houses away. The animals are carrying on right outside my window. With Florida's weather such as it is, my window remains open until it is unbearably hot outside and on occasion a bit nippy. A lover of fresh, breezy air, I have my bed positioned right next to the window. Normally this presents a most idyllic sleeping environment, except of course when the animal kingdom gets a bit rowdy.
The creature count is currently as follows:
- Three neighbourhood cats: Puffy from across the street who spends a lot of time in my yard, in my garage or on the hood of my car; Joey from down the street; and a yet unidentified grey and black cat who I have seen sitting in my yard with Puffy.
- One or two opossum that live under a pile of wood right outside the window.
- A female raccoon with four offspring who live nearby and use the path next to my window to commute to and from their home, somewhere in/near my backyard.
- At least one rat who enjoys the woodpile next to the opossum's home.
- One black racer snake, but I think he moved away or passed on as I have not seen him in quite a while.
Tonight while writing two PHP scripts to power new Mount Sutro features I heard the familiar crunch and shuffle of little feet pattering though the leaf-covered passage of my side yard. I quickly turned off my desk lamp and crawled onto my bed, flipping the switch to my animal kingdom lantern. It was the mother raccoon and her four adorable babies. I am not a big fan of human children, but little animals have the power to turn me into a bawling little schoolgirl.
These must be the same raccoons that have been getting into my garage to eat garbage, I figured. And since I recently started kicking Puffy out and closing the garage door each night, the raccoons have lost one supply of food. Somewhat guilty about this situation, I decided to feed them. I had leftover Carrot Raisin Bread from the new Mimi's Café that just opened near my house and some cat food I am no longer allowed to feed to Russ for medical reasons. I put two pieces of the bread and a pile of cat food on a stepping stone outside my window, went back inside and waited.
No more than ten minutes passed before the raccoons made their way to the food and consumed every last crumb before again continuing on their way. Always very curious about me, they kept a comfortable distance and occasionally paused eating to check out what I was doing. The four youths quickly ate their food, taking a moment here or there to squabble like two human children would. The mother took her piece of bread and ate it away from her children, only approaching them to grab some cat food and take it back to her stepping stone.
When everyone had finished eating, they played a bit more and then took turns washing their paws in a small puddle that had formed nearby. I was amazed by this behaviour.
Even now as I finish composing this document, I hear the familiar rustling of leaves. Taking a quick glance out the window I see it is one of the opossum that dwells only feet from me. You know, I really love being able to have some connection with nature and still live within the confines of civilization. There is something really comforting about it. People need to realise that this is the animal's home too and if we are to have any hope of evolving, we must learn to co-exist.
Original Photographs © Edwin Eugene Ott, neoperceptions.com