A Raccoon’s Manual for a Happy Life

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Articles and Stories by Others | 0 comments


personal note from Rhonda

A Raccoon’s Manual for a Happy Life
(Raccoon art by art buddy and always welcome guest, Nancy Bardos)

I am blessed to live on a bluff in the northwest that is prolific with nature. It is not uncommon to see eagles and deer each day, and this morning the parade of 3 baby raccoons.

Okay, I know there are contradictory perspectives on the benefits and drawbacks of raccoons, but even nay sayers would agree that they are cute… and all babies have an innocence.

My landlords have been feeding generation of these critters since 1946. They even have set up a wading pool at the far end of the bluff for them, so it seems unlikely I will change their ritual, and it was part of being interviewed to rent here. You must be a descendant of Francis of Assisi! Rather than resist it, I have decided to surrender and enjoy this up-close view of the animal kingdom. I treasure it.

Spring has sprung, and there are now several babies big enough to come out of hiding. It has been quite amazing to watch these mom raccoons guarding and protecting their young. It was early July that they first dared to bring the still nursing babies out to ‘teach them the ropes.’ Mom raccoon would keep them close and pick them up by the nap of the neck if they lagged behind or misbehaved. Over a few weeks they have gone from nursing to being taught to dunk their food and fend for themselves.

This morning the three little ones went on a solo adventure. One was definitely in the lead and appeared to have a definite intention. The second followed every step with a little less conviction. And, the third had a mind of it’s own and fell a bit behind exploring, but not loosing sight of the others. Eventually all three came to the base of a huge tree. Baby #1 ascended, a ‘newbie,’ but certain it would work somehow. Baby #2, I am assuming, muttered a few expletives before following the lead of the other. Baby #3 hesitated, found another route, and soon was up in the tree after the siblings, although with far more caution. They all made it!

I used to have a bumper sticker from the amazing singer/musician, Jana Stanfield that read “I am not lost, I am just exploring.” This was the energy of these 3 baby raccoons, reminding me of how to accept and embrace my own adventuress steps whether I take them boldly or with caution. For me life is not as much about beginning or completing, but the experience of every step and the lessons to be found. According to the Raccoon Manual for Living Life, no matter where you are, first or last, graceful or not, be totally present in every step. Savor every moment.

Baby #1 initiated the descent back down the tree. I saw as it was clinging to the tree upside down headed for the ground that sense of, “Oh crap, how did mom do it?” But, with an uncertain moment that lead to working with gravity, it committed to this part of the journey and was soon on the ground. #2 pondered a moment with greater planning, almost seeming to reflect on the demonstration it had just witnessed, and then it maneuvered the descent without problem. #3 said “No way!” and found an easier route, and with a few antics and near falls, all three made it to the grass below.

Obviously proud of their adventure, they playfully headed for a dip in the wading pool, or what we call around here The Raccoon Spa, for an early morning invigorating dip with Mama Raccoon there to act as lifeguard and role model. They has no idea that they had provided me with a few life lessons from:

A Raccoon’s Manual for a Happy Life

• Be innocent and curious.
• Get out in nature.
• Dare to explore.
• Follow your nose.
• Travel with friends.
• Care less what they think and trust your own instinct.
• Let each step be fun.
• Tackle unknowns in spite of your fear.
• Assume the outcome will be positive.
• Be mindful.
• Lighten up and be fully present.
• Do whatever you do whole-heartedly.
• Take pointers from the ones you trust, but make each experience your own.
• Commit, lean into your decision, and take action.
• Course correct as needed and without quilt.
• Apply what you learn from your mistakes to the next adventure.
• Receive acknowledgement as well as learn independence.
• Share.
• Celebrate.
• Repeat.

In Joy to the end,



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