01 AUG 2017: I was cleaning up a wood pile in Muskoka on a July afternoon when a large raccoon walked passed and climbed a tree right in front of me. I raced to the safety of the ripped screen doors of the cottage, and my memory being what it is, I forgot all about it. The next morning having coffee in the kitchen I heard activity beneath the floorboards. I called my wildlife specialist Tony who sent me on a mission to buy supplies to eradicate the intruder.  

Tony said that I needed cinnamon, cayenne and chili pepper, a quantity of ammonia and some used kitty litter, which my little feline provided. It was recommended that I wear old clothes and to cover myself with insect repellent for the mission.

Tony suggested that before dusk, I position all my flashlights to the underside of the cottage to see when the nocturnal forager would inevitably leave its den.

On cue, a large raccoon came lumbering and exited to the side of the building.

Instantly, I shimmied under the cottage on my belly with three yoghurt containers with ammonia poured on rags within. Ammonia replicates the smell of urine, to make my resident raccoon think that another squatter had dominated its space. I slithered along to leave the containers in different locations in the crawl space.

Animals have an aversion to strong spices, so I sprinkled the red seasonings on flat areas that I thought might be used for sleeping and then rolling onto my side, I tossed used kitty litter (another territorial marker) from a bag.

Having perfected the undulating belly motion I came out from under the cottage and took a sip of my scotch. Yes, it is part of the protocol - page one in Tony’s manual.

But, before I removed the flashlights, I saw a large raccoon come out from the crawl space. And then another, and then another.

In my haste to get into the den before the big masked guy came back for a breath mint, I neglected to account for more than one resident.

But if I was taken by surprise these raccoons were downright gobsmacked by the freak show they had witnessed. I am not kidding; they were shaking their heads with incredulity.

Probably counting down the days until the tourist and cottage season were over.


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Pam Stellini

Pam Stellini is an original. Her quirky outlook and wry humour defy categorization. Readers have compared her to Erma Bombeck and Art Buchwald with a travel spin – and we're not about to argue. 

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