It is Day 1 of our campaign to get the Racoon Family who moved into our chimney to move on to different living quarters.  They have lived here since at least the end of April.  It was then that I heard the squeaking of the newborn babies in the morning.  To be honest at the time I didn’t even think that they were racoons–birds or bats perhaps.  I was happy that they had chosen my chimney and happy to share my space with creatures who would help us by eating the bugs and mosquitos in the swamp that is our yard.

As the babies grew it became apparent that they weren’t little flying creatures.  When the day turned dusky an enormous clatter arose as the family woke up.  It sounded as though a herd of elephants had taken residence in my house.  All night big racoons returned home to bring food to the babes and the little ones cried for their mama.  In the early morning as I sleepily dragged myself out of bed and sat down to write my morning journal pages I could hear the drama of the racoon’s bedtime rituals.  I would smile in solidarity.

I have to admit I have enjoyed their visit, even though everyone I know has told me I MUST get rid of them.  For one, I have enjoyed the company of the litte babies on many a long lonely night.  Their little voices were a comfort to me in the quiet. Second, I liked the idea that my little home could provide shelter to so many–That we could share our little space on earth with other creatures.  I knew that flu was solidly closed and I know from winter evenings how damn hard it is to open it so I am not worried that they will get in and eat us at night.  As a mama myself I could identify with the mother’s racoon’s desire to keep her babies somewhere safe and dry, warm in the chilly spring evenings, cool in the heat of the summer day.

But a call to the wild life rescue organization assured me that they do carry so many other viruses and diseases–its really not a great idea to have them here.  And just a few days ago the summer breeze brought just a whiff of barnyard down from the chimney.  This morning as Max and I sat down on the couch to read we had to hold our nose.  The deep musky organic and disgusting smell of racoon poo was taking over my living room.  Time for the campaign to begin.

From my call to the wildlife rescue organization I learned some things.  For one, because of Maryland law around rabies specter species, any adult racoon that is trapped must be euthanized.   The babies could be moved to a shelter and released into the wild if there were folks licensed to raise them but there were currently no spaces left in any of the Maryland shelters so they too would be euthanized.  Therefor unless Max and I wanted to end this visit by killing our smelly little friends we must do this ourselves.  We must convince these house guests that they would be so much happier somewhere else. 

Now we are no fools  We were warned not to get close enough to them for them to scratch or bite and I frankly have no desire to move them myself.  So we must encourage them to leave by being bad hosts.  We are going against our welcoming nature and trying to be as obnoxious as possible.  Doing this without losing friends in the neighborhood will be a real delicate balancing act.

I moved the stereo over to the fireplace and all morning have been blasting music at a volume so loud that the music sounds tinny and horrible.  I briefly wondered what type of music would be most offensive to the mother racoon.  I considered for a few minutes putting Jimmy Buffett”s “(Why Don’t We) Get Drunk and Screw” on a continuous loop but realized that this would provoke questions from my little one that I wasn’t ready to answer at worst and at best would lead to Max singing the song in the grocery store, on the playground and at friend’s homes at the top of his lungs.    So instead we have blasted Benny More, Jimmy Buffet (minus THAT song), and soon I will switch to Broadway musicals.  My neighbors must love me.   Five hours and running and the racoons haven’t even stirred.

While it was fun to blast music for the first hour, there was much dancing and being silly, but the last few have been a bit more annoying.  My ears are ringing.  I took advantage of the beautiful weather and painted the front door (one of the many tasks on my long to-do list) but now have realized that I must keep the door open for 12 hours tying me to the house.  The house that smells like a barnyard and sounds like a disco.  Max has wandered off to a neighbors house.  The little traitor.

Tomorrow if there is still a racoon family in my house we will have to up the ante.  I will put a rag soaked with pinesol in the fireplace.  I will buy a bright light and shine it down the chimney.  And if none of these tasks work I will continue to invent new ways to be obnoxious.  If we get really desperate we can pour urine down the chimney and then move to a hotel for about a week while the smell clears out of the house.  Lets hope we don’t need to get that desperate.  But I can’t even bear the thought of calling in a trapper.  I am not ready to teach my son that lesson.  Not yet.

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