A Girl and a Raccoon Meet In the Woods

I planned on going for a long, intense walk and then sitting down to write. The writing came sooner than expected. I was walking along a somewhat beaten path when I looked over and saw a patch of earth covered over in fallen leaves, above it a canopy of trees. My issue was that in order to get to it, I’d have to step through a less tame ramble of branches. What’s the big deal about some branches? Moments before this a string of my own hair scared the crap out of me. Let’s just say I’m jumpy.

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But I’d love to go backpacking through the Appalachian and John Muir Trails one day. How the heck will I do that if I’m scared of a wee bit of brush?

Besides, I wanted to sit somewhere and write, and I likely wasn’t going to find a more lovely spot than this.

So I lifted my walking stick in front of me as a first defence and wandered in. The canopy of trees gently let in golden light; the ground was speckled with a rainbow of browns and beiges. First I started writing. Then I started studying the ground around me, which lead me to taking photos and collecting specimens. I’ve dabbled in flat lays before, but now I’ve finally discovered a style that I might like to play with.

20180402_1540021978129857.jpg20180402_162929303533986.jpg20180402_1707552143408582.jpg20180402_171054116044265.jpgI hadn’t planned on bringing anything home, so I was stuffing things into the pockets of my bag and hoping they didn’t get destroyed.

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Note to self: Bring a jar next time.

After some time spent writing, collecting and experimenting with flat lays on my knee, I was ready to head home.

I was feeling proud of myself for having gone off the beaten path. I was commending myself on taking a small step toward being able to backpack through a forest some day. And then it happened.

Noises in the bush. Louder than lizards make. I’m out in nature all the time and lizards rustling through brush still makes me take notice. A squirrel, maybe?

It’s not a fucking squirrel. You already know, it’s a raccoon.

It’s standing on its hind legs, and it’s staring at me with round black eyes that, quite frankly, give no signs of its emotional state. We are so close. It’s next to a tree and I’m standing on an open path. There’s no options. I have to walk past it. It’s a surprise I don’t pee on myself even a little bit, and I’ll carry that pride for the rest of my life.

I stomp my walking stick on the ground and make some random weird noises (at least I think I did. Memory takes a back seat in life or death situations). The creature doesn’t move. This is when I realize that I have absolutely zero idea what to do when coming across a raccoon. Do I act friendly? Do I act threatening? Will staring into its eyes make it feel more comfortable or is that a sign of aggression?

I smile at it. An awkward, hesitating smile that sinks when I see no positive reaction from the raccoon. I start walking and it stands frozen, save for it’s head that swivels slowly as I pass. I throw out some quick glances to let it know I’m still on high alert? Or that I’m not a threat? I have no idea what I’m doing, but if that thing is coming for my face I wanted to know about it. I try my hardest to not show fear, but creatures are more sensitive than we are, so I probably reek of fear; let’s just be honest.

Thankfully, it never moved. I get a few feet away and pick up the pace. My heart beats so hard and fast it might just unhinge itself from my chest and drop down into my bowels. But I make it out, heart and bladder intact.

I love being out in nature, but creatures freak me out. This encounter with a raccoon was a worst case scenarios for me and I survived. Not only that, once I was sure it was over, I laughed and was happy for the crazy experience. Would I ever want to be in this situation again? Heck no. Will I be searching what to do in case of a raccoon encounter? Yes, I will.

What do you love most about being out in nature? What terrifies you?


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My name is Lyz-Stephanie and I want to inspire you to be more connected to yourself and the world, to find beauty in simple pleasures, and to have more adventures. Every day we can do something to make our lives happier and richer, make our minds more active and engaged. I’m on the journey. Will you join me?

23 thoughts on “A Girl and a Raccoon Meet In the Woods

  1. Girl… a raccoon?? We live in completely different areas of the world if you’re scared of a little ball of fluff such as a trash panda. The main thing to keep in mind with raccoons is that they are known to carry rabies. Basically, keep your distance from them.

    Growing up in my neck of the woods, our biggest concern were the wild hogs. Whenever we went out on a hike, we brought a gun for protection just in case we came across one. Those things are huge and vicious. You don’t want to mess around with a wild pig!

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    1. Haha, you say raccoon like it’s a puppy! I want nothing to do with trash pandas or berry-eating pandas. Maybe one day I won’t feel sheer panic, but right now anything larger than a squirrel should keep it’s distance if it doesn’t want me losing my mind.

      Do wild hogs run in a straight line or do you have to be an excellent to get them? I imagine you’ve got to be a good shot regardless. I’m a decent shot, but fear might make my hands shake in a real life scenario! I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. Didn’t Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones get killed by one of those creatures?

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  2. Aww a raccoon! I bet it was more threatened by you 😛 Plus, it did not have a walking stick in his defence.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful time writing in the woods…must have been bliss. Love the pretty wings in your journal!
    Also, I am glad that the raccoon decided not to hitch a ride with you back home. xx

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    1. Is no one else afraid of these things?! I can imagine him pouncing, both of us gripping the walking stick while rolling around on the forest floor in a fight to the death. 😲

      I was so happy to find that wing. I can’t wait to use it in some way. It’s always a nice change for me to write somewhere more interesting than my living room. Often when I try to write in public places it distracts me more than helps. So this works well for me. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am wary of bears and snakes. I have nightmares about those two. Now consider grappling with a raccoon vis-a-vis those two creatures. Just a thought. Admiration for any creature (snakes, strictly excluded) is probably best from a distance. xx

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        1. I actually really like snakes. Not stumbling on them in the woods, but if they have an owner I’m all over them.

          I haven’t given much thought to bears, so I’ll say bears and raccoons are head to head in this. 😄

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          1. Argh! I had to pat a python at a snake farm in Malaysia. The python owner was so insistent I could not disappoint him. The only thing that surprised me was that it was not slimy to touch! But the memory gives me the creeps even now.

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            1. Where does this assumption of sliminess come from? It seems universal. Did someone tell you they were slimy? I love 💜 their soft, smooth texture and lovely patterns. The way they’re muscles move… I’ll stop now before you catch the hebie jeebies.

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            2. I have it already! I have had it for the longest time when it comes to any reptile. The way the scales catch light, I suppose it gives them the illusion of being slimy. Slimy or not, Shudder.

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  3. Your thought process when encountering an animal sounds like mine! What am I supposed to do to live? Threatening or non-threatening? Eye contact or no? So many options! hahaha glad you made it out alive 😀

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    1. Thanks, Amy, you know the struggle well! I’ve been getting the sense that people don’t feel threatened by raccoons; they’re furry and wild and not deer. What’s not to be terrified about?! Glad I made it out alive too. 😅

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  4. While on vacation, I was quietly doing dishes one morning only to lift one up and discover a gecko under it. I fully screamed. I’d like to think it was just the surprise if it, not that I can’t handle a little lizard. But I really hate snakes. If it had been a snake, I would have fainted.

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    1. Whoa, I’ve never thought of that. I think most of the animals are tame because there are no warning signs (that I’ve seen) but it’s not a bad idea to keep something on hand in case some creature gets a hold of the rabies 🙂

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  5. I love those pictures of leaves you took! Made for a really interesting picture. Oh my goodness I feel you on the raccoon terror! My biggest nature fear is spiders. I know they are relatively harmless and something I need to get over, but the thought of them winding their wily little bodies down from a tree branch onto my head is worse than a Freddy Kruger movie marathon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! ‘m a huge lover of photography and I like capturing little details 🙂 Terror is the right word! I don’t really think much about spiders, but I’m shocked that everyone doesn’t share my terror at coming eyeball to eyeball with a raccoon, lol. We all have our thing, even when we know that we’re exaggerating the danger in our minds.

      After watching just a piece of a Freddie movie as a kid and being thoroughly traumatized, I can’t even watch commercials for marathons. That movie almost ruined my childhood! Good luck out there and wear a hat. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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