One night in July 2012, I had just fallen asleep in the back of my (then) Subaru, when I heard a strange noise; strange noises in the night always start my heart pounding, and my hand reaching for the bear mace.
At first my groggy mind couldn’t quite figure out where the sound was coming from, but another loud bump confirmed that it was something bumping my vehicle, and my mind went through the possibilities and immediately thought of human or bear. I was parked in the national forest and was the only vehicle there that night, and I can’t ever dismiss the chance of this being a human made noise. I’m less afraid of bears, but they can do a lot of damage to a vehicle if they want to get at a food source.
I sat up on my Thermarest pad, and peered out between the scarves I hang up to act as privacy curtains. I didn’t see any car lights, or vehicles though.
The next bump I heard came from the roof and was accompanied with the sound of small animals chattering to each other. So I thumped on the roof above my head, and the bumping stopped. For a few moments all was silent, then the chattering started up again, and the thumping and bumping grew even louder, and wilder.
I then realized that I had a pair of raccoons on my roof, and they were using my roof rack bars as a play ground. When I heard strange noises coming from the front of my vehicle, I realized that they were also sliding down my windshield which had a really nice slope to it, and then clambering back up to the roof so they could slide down again . I couldn’t see them very well with my windshield sun reflector up, so I took it down to watch, but that put and end to that game and they returned to the roof. They had turned my vehicle into their own little jungle gym, and were having a blast.
I considered getting out and trying to scare them away, but my head would be right by them when I opened the door and raccoons can be pretty vicious, and I didn’t want to waste bear mace on raccoons. So I simply waited until they grew bored and left, which was about ten-minutes later.
I drifted back to sleep, only to have the whole scenario repeated again at around 4:00 AM. After that sleep would not return, so at 4:45 AM, I got up with the first bird song, and enjoyed an early start to the day.
I don’t know what drew them to my vehicle, as there was no food lying around or any other attractants; I suppose they were just curious.
I smile every time I imagine those little rascals playing on my roof. Those people who say that animals don’t feel joy, or know how to play, have no idea what they are talking about. Living as I do, barely separated from nature, I witness it regularly.
Remember to savor the journey, and always enjoy the wildlife, even at 4:00am.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
Raccoon – Courtesy of Wikipedia