Feral Animals

A raccoon came in our house through our dog door last Saturday at 3 am, knocked over a bowl of cat food and ate it off our dining room floor. If Stan hadn't been home the raccoon would be here still, my new house mate, maybe even my new husband or at least a close friend. I had no instinct to make him leave or to disturb him from his nook, felt honored and excited by his presence. But I knew I had to let the feral animal go and not join him, because if I did there's a chance I wouldn't return at all.

I've learned how to shower consistently and a trick or two for taming my hair, where to shave and what, but this hasn't always been the case. My mother raised me to be wild, called me Mowgli, didn't even try to brush my matted, thorny brush of hair. I refused to let her dress me, insisted on dressing myself, sometimes wearing only her cowgirl boots or nothing at all for days on end. My clothes were neither neat nor new nor pressed and I embarrassed her once by asking our neighbor what an iron was. 

My dad took me camping in the mountains where he grew up, taught me how to shoot a bow and carve my own arrows. I ran through the woods with the same ratty orange nightgown for days happy in the tangled woods. My grandmother tried to domesticate me, permed my hair, bought me matching polka dot skirts and tops, washed my blankie, made me clean. I loved dressing up like a girl but knew it was an act, the real me underneath, ratty, scraggly, unkempt, real. 

The raccoon's eyes were wild and dark and I didn't want to send him away or insist he never return but Stan was lightning fast and efficient with his folding table barricade, intent on protecting our domestic bliss. 

Valley HaggardComment