All Creatures of Our God and King Part II (AKA: "New Jersey Raccoons of Terror")
The success of S's squirrel adventures has reminded me of an "encounter" I once had with some raccoons. To truly appreciate this story, however, you have to know that my dislike for camping can be compared with, let's say, Michael Moore's dislike for George W. Bush.
In New York I was one of the leaders in charge or the young men in our ward and had, on numerous occasions, weaseled my way out of having to take the kids on their beloved campouts. But after a year-and-a-half of successful weaseling, my guilt caught me and I volunteered to go with six 9th graders to sleep in the wilderness of New Jersey. They brought tents but the "leaders" were supposed to sleep in a lean-to with one side completely open to the wild. As I was getting ready for bed, the kids told me that on their last campout in this spot one of the leaders awoke to see a raccoon standing on his chest and staring him in the face.
Not long after I slid into my sleeping bag, I began hearing noises. Now, these sounds weren't snarls or anything--they were more like shuffles--even still at each sound my heart would race with terror: I was convinced that behind the shuffles was a team of snarling rabies-ridden racoons. My mind picutred the rabies shots plunging into my soft tummy--all this because these lousy kids dragged me out to New Jersey so they could get another patch on their uniform. Well, needless to say, I didn't sleep at all that night. My hyper-vigilance paid off, however. I can assure you that no raccoon perched itself on my chest that night.
Morning came, and I trudged over to the smoky fire pit and began eating some half cooked "muffin-on-a-stick". As I ate, I discovered the real cause of my New Jersey night-terrors were not stealthy raccoons, but rather LEAVES. Yes, leaves.........as in: "leaves are falling on the ground." As they were falling from trees and landing around my lean-to that night, I had mistaken these (apparently huge and noisy) leaves for deadly raccoons.
I have not been camping since...