Two nights ago I was awoken by a fight outside my house.
I had just drifted off to sleep after staying up late reading my latest fluff novel. The kind of fiction that engrosses you for the hours that you are reading it but is totally forgotten by the time you have finished your next book.
Anyway, it could not have been more than a hour after I went to bed when this vicious altercation began. I layed there for a few minutes trying to figure out what was making that sound. At first I thought it was the neighbourhood cats having a standoff in my front yard. That wouldn’t be the first time.
But the sounds were much more wild and kind of scary. I slid out of my toasty blankets and peered out the window. Nothing unusual out there that I could see.
Yet there was those sounds again.
It was a growl, it was a screech, it was a cry, it was a snarl.
It was creepy.
I suspected who the culprits were. I knew they visited my property regularly because I have seen the signs before but I had other visitors recently too. My next door neighbour called the other night to warn me that a bear was cruising up my way towards my back yard. Probably to fill up on fruit and vegies from my garden. It is that time of year.
I do not live in the country but I do live in a neighbourhood that butts up on a green space that is a regular “highway” for deer, bears, and cougars and is rich with small prey. It is not unusual to witness bald eagles circling round and round searching for their next meal. So I am not surprised when wildlife stray into the neighbourhood in search of a easy meal.
Out of the corner of my eye I spied movement in a large cedar tree that over hangs my sundeck at the side of my house. Yes, that is where the sounds were coming from. I moved to another window for a closer look.
I could have just gone out on the sundeck, but what if it was a bear? I had recently harvested my Granny Smith apple tree and the spoils were sitting in buckets on the table on the deck. I’m not that curious or that brave.
The large branches on the cedar began to shake furiously as the growls and screeches really ramped up. The fight was on. My heart was racing. This was not going to end well, but like the voyeur who can not look away from the carnage of a car accident, I continued to stare.
Then, without warning, the fight was over. My automatic security light popped on and out of the shadows there he was, natures bandit. He waddled across my driveway seemingly no worse for wear, paused, looked around and then scooted up another cedar tree at the front of my house.
I could hear him up there whimpering. How was I going to get back to sleep knowing he was up there? Do I just go and take up that fluff novel again until I can relax and go back to my nice warm bed? I went to get a drink of water while I decided but being the voyeur that I am, once again I was drawn to that window.
The security light did not pop on this time but in the darkness I could make out three other racoons coming down off the first cedar and then begin to mosey across my front lawn towards my neighbours yard to the right. As they moved out of sight, I heard the scratching of claws on cedar bark and I peered over as the first bandit climb down his cedar tree and scurried after the other three.
Racoons hang out in small groups in either gender specific packs or a mother with her offspring’s. This was not a territorial fight because if it was, that first racoon would have fled the area. This was a family dispute. Was it a pecking order altercation or was junior in need of a little discipline? Either way, that first racoon took to the other tree in need of a time out to lick his wounds, maybe pout and feel sorry for himself but there was no way he was about to be left behind when the group decided to move on.
Animal behaviour is not much different that human behaviour. Friends and families fight. It might get nasty, leading one of you to feel the need to seek some space from the situation, but in the end the bond of pack is greater. After a while the memory of what the fight was about fades and life goes on.
Nature can be cruel, the racoon rumble in my cedar tree may have seemed harsh, but what if junior was behaving in a dangerous manner that was putting his mother and siblings at risk or maybe this was a group of four young males and that first racoon was actually a bully. The other three where just banding together to send the message that this kind of behaviour would no longer be tolerated. Sometimes the only way to really learn a lesson is the hard way.
I think the lesson was learned as there was no more fighting that night.
After rationalizing what had happened outside my house, I was able to calm myself enough to go back to bed and fall soundly to sleep. What an interesting way to receive a piece of random wisdom. Was there a lesson here that I need to learn? Was the universe telling me that if I didn’t figure it out soon it would teach it to me in a harsher crueler way? I hope not.
But I am grateful for the fair warning at any rate. Next time though, could it not be at 1:00am in the morning and not quite so loud?