No Reindeer in January

It might be an intruder. I lay twisting, my heart pounding, in a cold sweat. After months of insomnia, at last I’d enjoyed a great sleep–with dreams, too. I looked across the room to the big red dog who lay a dark heap fixed, unperturbed. Maybe not an intruder, then.

My neighbors and I have been putting off taking down our outside Christmas lights, reluctant to let the season go quite yet, we had so much fun. In December neighbors were adding outside decorations to their Christmas wonderland daily, making the property as inviting and lit up, comforting and happy as Whoville. Strobe lights swept green, blue and red from their yard into my window, across the wall opposite the bed, and around again. I rather enjoy it. There goes flash of silver.

“Mia! Did you hear that?” A heavy clatter galloped across–the roof, I think.

The dog ignored me.

I called her again, but if a sentence doesn’t have treat or chicken or walk in it it doesn’t register. Must be a critter up there. The neighbors have four cats who like to get up to my roof via the great tree in the yard.

I flopped over with a pillow over my head. It can’t stay long, whatever it is. Doesn’t a nocturnal critter have something important to do, like, scrounge for food? A couple months ago an owl hung on the branch of the big tree and talked to whomever would listen, then I was sad when she went away. When the rooftop erupted again, like wild horses thundering afield, I wished for Miss Owl.

There is one word that will rouse Mia from a slumber: KITTYCAT. Actually, it’s two words, but to her, one, for the creature which holds more fascination for her than the others. She has asked me repeatedly for a KITTYCAT and I’d been to the Humane Society to interview KITTYCATS for the job. Did you know for ten bucks you can get a feral fixed KITTYCAT who will slink around the alley all night and you never have to let it in because it doesn’t want to come in because it doesn’t like you–it will never like you no matter how hard you try–but if you feed it it will still hang around? I wondered if a KITTYCAT like that would be enough for Mia. For sure, enough for me.

“Up! Let’s go see the KITTYCAT! Up she leaps first, before I drag out of bed. We can’t get to the door fast enough. Sometimes when a good sleep is interrupted I get mad. Only half afraid because I’m mad, I slung open the door to a whirl of light on the lawn and I looked up.

A raccoon! Deceptively adorable and unafraid. I stood there in my fuzzy white robe, the angel of righteousness and I sent fire and brimstone up to that raccoon. “Why you, you jerk! How dare y–”

Two more sets of eyes appeared, unblinking, as if I were the town drunk, a mere curiosity, something to gossip about later after I went away. I shook my fist. “You’ve got a lot of nerve,” I shouted. To clarify, normally, I prefer to do the polite thing and not wake my neighbors. Not waking my neighbors matters a great deal to me. I don’t want them to see me the crazy lady just now.

I got absolutely no response so I kept saying stoppit because saying something made me feel like I was getting somewhere with them. Then, with paws folded above their furry tummies, like Dali Lamas,  he perfectly adorable masked trinity sauntered closer, struck a reverent pose, and gazed out over the gutters at me and, evidently, decided not to answer my prayer. I grew madder. “Mia, KITTYCATS!” I pointed to the roof. “See?”

I felt like a mad woman, an apparition all lit up yelling in visions of strobe lights like a performer onstage, whilst flinging insults at an unanswering roof. Not caring, I took a step forward. The holy raccoons remained unmoved by my display. My pine tree gives off big fat pinecones so I picked up one and lobbed it. Missed. “It’s one thirty!” I yelled, “A.M!” As if raccoons cared about that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, the tree didn’t offer fallen sticks, but what I do have is a long blue foam yoga cylinder I use to relieve cramped muscles. It might be useful right now, so I ran into the house to retrieve it. When I came back outside the dog wasn’t staring up to the roof. Instead, she sniffed around the daisies that somehow manage to bloom in December. “Oh you. You’re a lotta help!” I said, disgusted. “I roast turkey for you. I make gravy with fish oil for you and this-this is how you thank me?” I hiss at her. “And let’s not even talk about the Denta Stix I give you after every meal.” I hoist the cylinder and bonk the living daylights out of the roof gutter. BONK. BONK, bonk bonk bonk

I was shocked that not so much as a twitch, not even a whisker moved or claw clicked. It seems I am no match against Mother Nature. It also seems I know little about raccoon behavior. The Great Stan Stanfield always said we need to let Mother Nature take her course. I didn’t believe for a second letting Mother Nature take her course included letting three (or possibly more) raccoons chase strobe lights back and forth across my rooftop all night long. No fear in those bandit eyes, neither interest nor disinterest. Certainly not pity. All blandness. I believed this behavior might be what the psychologists call the grey rock technique. My aim wasn’t great the first time, so I threw another pinecone. BINGO! I hit the big one. That oughta do it.


I continued throwing several more pinecones with the thought that surely this would be the one that moved them and, because the yells had been so effective I lobbed a few more of those, too.

I went back into the house last night defeated by blandness of the grey rock technique. I understand it works on difficult people. They stayed and played and played until three. I got up this morning, cut up roasted turkey, made gravy for the dog and went to work bleary-eyed. Tonight, I actually want them to come back because I have a few tricks up my sleeve, mainly the garden hose. It should work, as long as they don’t come down after me.

It’s just that, in January, water is so darned cold.




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