I put off going into the living room this morning. I went about my business in the kitchen scrambling eggs, making coffee, and leisurely consuming both before doing the dishes. But I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to go look. So I made one more cup of java and headed to the living room window.
First I looked around the room for my cats, well, one cat in particular. None was around. My heart settled a bit. And when I peered out, all I saw was the backyard. Not a single raccoon in sight.
In most ways I was relieved.
Yesterday morning, Terry called from work to tell me he saw one lie down back there – in broad daylight. It lifted its head once and then appeared to go to sleep. It was early when he saw it, not a lot of sunlight. Nonetheless, we both knew that it was unusual behavior for a raccoon. Then last evening, just past dusk, our cat Marvis was found sitting on the back of the couch close to the open window and appearing to have a conversation with a raccoon who had climbed up on the railing of the deck and was staring through the window at him.
The raccoon had the prettiest little face I’ve ever seen on what I would ordinarily call a varmint. She looked like she was pleading with Marvis to let her come in and sit on the couch with him. She showed no outward signs of sickness other than her encroachment on human territory, but I had a sickened feeling about her. Terry opened the patio door just enough to see if he could scare her away. She did move from her lofty perch, but didn’t leave the deck. She stayed at length from the human and feline beings peering at her from inside, but she was suddenly frightened by headlights that flashed through the trees from the neighbor’s driveway. Her movements showed no sign of physical pain and she eventually found her way down the stairs and into the now dark back yard.
We decided to wait until morning before calling anyone to check on her.
She wasn’t there.
While I was relieved with the hope that she had gotten over whatever might have ailed her enough to come so close to human beings, I have a sense of sadness that this wild creature may have curled up and is dying or has died.
We don’t live in the city and we often have wild creatures ambling through our yard. Our subdivision adjoins a nature conservancy. Fox and deer along with woodchucks, rabbits, and turtles make their paths, sometimes with some destruction along the way. A mother Canada goose once took up residence somewhere nearby as we would see her leading her babies to the pond. But we try to live and let live (although we did participate in a woodchuck relocation program when one furry fellow dug under our shed and left the opening available for other more destructive and stinky pests). All of them are prey to other animals and that is the part of the cycle of life. Unfortunately, the nearby highway takes its toll on too many wild critters (and human ones).
Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day in southern Wisconsin. The sky was blue with wisps of clouds and the temperature hovered in the lower 70s. Taking advantage of the good weather, I drove just over an hour to the southern end of Horicon Marsh, 33,000 acres carved out by an Ice Age glacier. Eventually the lake that was formed as a result ate away at the natural dam that had been created. It drained, leaving behind the abundant and natural refuge for migratory birds, fish, muskrats, mink and other wildlife. Once modern man got his hands on it, of course, things changed for the worse, but the marsh today has been almost completely restored to what is believed to be its natural state. Today, 22,000 acres of the marsh form the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. The other 11,000 acres compose the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area.
I saw a few birds, but many of those have already begun their trips south. Yet in the stillness of the day, I could hear them. And there were plenty of signs of muskrat homes. But what impressed me the most was the quiet of the expansive vista. It was the perfect day to get away for some peace and quiet in the midst of nature. The leaves of the trees surrounding the marsh were turning their shades of purples and yellows and orange. The marsh itself might, through some eyes, be akin to a field of oats or other grain ready to be harvested. It, too, had taken on various shades of light yellow and browns.
It occurred to me that on a cold, gloomy day this might seem a lonely locale for a person alone to retreat. But on this warm, sunny day with only a handful of other humans around there just wasn’t enough time to reflect upon it all and God’s hand in its formation.
I suspect there are wounded and hurt animals within the refuge, even a raccoon or two that might have been struggling. The difference was that I didn’t see those. It was only upon my return home that a wild creature stared at me through our open window with what appeared to be pleading eyes.
It left our cat Marvis (the other two seemed disinterested) meowing gently and looking at me with huge eyes as if asking questions I was unable to answer. I was touched by his apparent compassion.
We’re all hoping the raccoon is all right and that it was not hurt by human hands. But we’ll keep an eye out for a while. Sometimes God wants to use us as God’s instruments – to help all creatures great and small.
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20
“… present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness.” – Romans 6:13bShare here: