Racoon

The Outdoor Guy: Quicksilver moments

Ron Larson writes about his experiences in the great outdoors

Quicksilver memories can happen when we least expect them.

Animals rely on being wholly present in the simplicity of survival, aware of every solitary, deep, slow breath. To see other animals being compassionate and comforting in a moment of crisis creates a sense of Utopian balance in my Zen bubble but that’s not what happened today.

At the west side of Muir Creek a momma bear and two cubs have taken up residence so they can enjoy the daily blackberry buffet. I have only heard from people that the bears are there and haven’t actually seen them. I walk the blackberry gauntlet where the trail narrows I keep a sharp eye to my right. I listen beyond the birds and the hush, hush of the waves for any indication that the rumour is true. The bubble bursts. To my left, first a scream and a hiss that sounds more like a Heron scream than what it actually was. I focus and squint in the smattering of browns and greys to see my dog has a baby raccoon by the leg. “Drop,” I say, she obliges.

Most animals seem to be curious and grateful for their world, so when things go sideways it’s wide eyes and open mouths as things get sorted. In nature, conflict management and bargaining in good faith take on a more deliberate meaning that may have a life or death outcome.

As the injured raccoon laid on her back in the underbrush with her piano hands and feet swinging wildly, I crouched down and reached my hand in to grab her she hissed and tried to bite me. I realigned and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and scooped her up and wrapped her in my shirt. The plan was take her to the WildARC in East Sooke for assessment.  The ARC aptly named given it’s biblical reference is on Malloch Road just off of Rocky Point Road but actually stands for Animal Rescue Centre.

I held the raccoon, now bundled in a towel, close to my chest and drove on, though the raccoon falls asleep, this would fall into the “don’t segment” on the WildARC website for how to handle injured wildlife and is worth the read.

I hand the baby racoon to a smiling volunteer who lets me know they have a raccoon rehabilitation area. I wait for the assessment.

Following the music to quicksilver moments is tricky. It can be full of gratefulness when we follow the tones of life’s messy honesty but also bittersweet. The volunteer returns to let me know the raccoon was severely dehydrated and nursing a previous impact trauma and that they are going to end her suffering.

Approaching life with full presence of mind and open heart is something to strive for as we negotiate life’s touching surprises and startling paradoxes with every solitary, deep, slow breath.

Wildlife Dinner Auction at the Four Points by Sheraton November 1, 2014. Their signature fundraising event of the year. Tickets are $80. As the only wildlife rehabilitation centre on Southern Vancouver Island it’s an easy google search or call 250-478-9453.

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