with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

A Raccoon Interrupts My Work Day

Raccoon on the fence behind our trailer in Mobile, Alabama, photograph by Lorelle VanFossenPeople seem to want to know about my life, specifically, my life in the trailer and on the road. For the most part, it’s actually boring. Sure, we live in a tin can on wheels, and while we’ve hauled this thing back and forth across the country, and continue to do so, we are now spending more time in the air flying to our different destinations and the trailer tends to stay in one place. So the thrill of life on the road has changed a little, but it’s still life in a tin can.

I work. Brent works. The only difference is that he leaves the tin can to work and I stay in it. I have an office in here, with everything I need within arms reach, including the fridge and toilet – handy things. When it is hot and sunny, the shades come down and the air conditioner turns on and I live in a tomb of darkness, no different than most of my 5 years in Israel’s nasty summers.

Raccoon eats a peanut on the fence, photograph by Lorelle VanFossenThere is a small difference. The screen in our back kitchen window is broken and I haven’t gotten around to fixing it. The back of the trailer is in shade from the trees back there, so the light coming in isn’t bothersome, unlike the bright light reflected off the white trailer out my window by my desk which is blinding. So I can turn my head and look out from time to time, resting my eyes from this computer screen.

Raccoon scrambles down the fence for more nuts, photograph by Lorelle VanFossenI’ve positioned some bird feeders out there so I can watch the mourning doves, blue jays, cardinalis, and other little finches and wrens come swooping in and grabbing a bite to eat and then swooping away. I also put up a small peanut box for the squirrels. They love it. They have to lift the lid to get into the peanuts, but they figure that out quickly and clean it out frequently.

I was online chatting with someone I’m working on a project with when movement out the back window catches my eye. I turn to look at what I assume is a little squirrel climbing down the back fence towards the feeder and quickly realize this is no small squirrel. It’s a huge raccoon.

The squirrels have been chased away and the birds are cowering in the trees, and the racoon has discovered the peanut box. The lid is open and he has a peanut in his mouth, chomping away. I grab the camera and take a few pictures through the window, but it’s not good enough. So I carefully step outside and sneak in a little closer, my handy little digital camera clicking away in case he runs at the sight of me.

Raccoon goes down the fence, photograph by Lorelle VanFossenI hide behind a curtain of rug that I have drying there from our recent trailer leaks and snap off the pictures. As I click, he moves down the fence towards the box, nose first. He reaches in and snatches a peanut, grabs two instead and one falls to the ground. Swosh, he’s down on the ground, not missing one precious peanut. I step slightly to one side to avoid the bird feeder pole blocking my line of site and he spots me.

In a flash he races along the fence behind the boards we have stored there, then up the fence and across. He is moving too fast to get a clean shot, though I still try, the cheap digital camera struggling to stay in focus. He’s down the back of the fence and off into the woods and I stand there on my patio, thrilled.

Raccoon climbs down to peanut feeder. photograph by Lorelle VanFossenBefore moving to Israel, much of our life was spent photographing large wildlife, elk, moose, deer, bear, and also smaller wildlife like racoons, squirrels, pika, gophers, arctic squirrels and more. We also did insects, and, well, everything.

Israel is filled with life, but mostly human life. Animals are in zoos, and anything that was ever “natural” about the place was long ago destroyed as every major power in the world has trashed the place over and over again, leaving behind massive destruction and ruin, only to rise up and be trounced over and over again. We had to work hard to “see nature”, and slowly the passion dried up.

Now, I have a huge nature in my backyard. Can’t wait to tell Brent when he gets home from HIS work. Mine just got more exciting.

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