birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

This Land Is Your Land, This Land is My Land

My parents picked a lot on the edge of the housing development for their dream house. The land surrounding it was still forested and on one side a cliff dropped to the water of the sound. While the house was under construction we caught glimpses of the wildlife already settled there: a garter snake, an owl, and more than one raccoon.

Once we had moved in, the raccoons would come to the deck at night, staring in through undraped windows at the illuminated diorama before them. When they got bored they played; when spring came they brought their babies; when tomatoes grew in summer they picked them for playthings. We entertained them; they entertained us.

Since consciousness around the impact of feeding wildlife had not spread far at that time, we selected dog treats as an appropriate overture of friendship. The raccoons accepted. Sometimes one, sometimes twenty would arrive at dinner-time for their portions. We doled them out one at a time and one per raccoon as each came forward to gently reach front paws out to meet our extended fingers holding the treat. Everyone fell in love – the raccoons with the treats, and us with the raccoons.

We read Sterling North’s stories of his raccoon, Rascal. We snapped endless pictures. We ooo’d over their babies and laughed over their playful antics. We were head over heels with them.

No raccoon I’ve encountered since has been nearly as charming as those of that land. More often they have been quite unlikeable, with incorrigible attitude. Like first love lore promises, that first love has left a sweet spot in my heart for the little clowns. When I see one trip through my yard I feel like something must be surely be good and right with the place that we both call home.

Two Humps or Three?

Hickory, Dickory, Dock