Thursday, July 3, 2008

A deal is a deal

Rob and I fell in love with our house at first sight.

We knew we couldn't afford it, but we took to dropping by during the months it languished on the market, chatting up the owner, an elderly Austrian man, in the hopes that maybe he would see that we were meant to have it, despite our limited financial resources.

And on one such visit he told us about Charlie.

She was a pretty girl, he said, despite her advancing age. Many nights she didn't have the means to feed her family and so she would tap on the back door. He didn't mind. He had grown used to seeing her silhouette in the moonlight. He had grown to depend on her dependence.

"I worry," he said. "I worry that whoever buys this house won't look out for Charlie like I do, that they won't care about her. She's old now. She needs me."

We will, we promised him. We will look after Charlie.

And he nodded. A deal is a deal.

"It's time you made an offer," he said.

And so we made an offer to buy the house. And it was way too low, but he accepted it to our great surprise. We were home owners.

And only a few days after we moved in Charlie tapped on our back door, just like we knew she would.

She was very old and much more frail than we had imagined. And she had a little one with her, her daughter we assumed. They were bloodied, as if they had been in a fight. Her daughter was missing most of one ear.

We were nervous, but we fed them. They were wary of us too, but too weak to refuse our kindness.

They came almost every night after that. And all that summer Charlie grew older and weaker and her daughter stronger and more robust.

And one night Charlie didn't come. Her daughter tapped on our door. Her mangled ear glittered tragically in the moonlight. We gave her extra food. We knew we would never see Charlie again.

It has been six years since we last saw Charlie but her daughter, instantly recognizable by her ear, taps on our door several nights a week. She has no fear of us and we have no fear of her. Horace treats her as a contemporary. Graham is enamoured of her.

Charlie's daughter has a family of her own now. Every year she has a new family in fact. And every year she lines her youngsters up and nudges them towards us one by one.

And sometimes we feel a little strange about the whole thing. We wonder if maybe Charlie's dependence and her daughter's dependence on us is wrong in some fundamental way: if perhaps we are somehow subverting the laws of nature.

But after all is said and done, we conclude, Charlie and her family were here long before we were.

And peanut butter sandwiches are cheap.

And a deal is a deal.


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74 comments:

Life As I Know It said...

I thought Charlie was a cat after the missing ear part...cute little raccoons!
I'd feed them every night too!

tommie said...

my first thought was: is it organic?? LOL

Happy Canada day ( is it a day late for y'all)

Nap Warden said...

Awww...good for you for keeping up your end of the bargain! They are very cute...it must be easy to do:)

wheelsonthebus said...

What a lovely post.

MommyTime said...

Well, I was glad to be completely sure they weren't people. :) Do be very very careful and worried if any of them shows up during the day, though. Rabies isn't part of the deal...

flutter said...

aww my heart just cracked open!

Kami said...

Aw, now I understand how that racoon was so close to your window with G sitting right there! What a fabulous story, love it :-)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Sounds like you had good karma--keep it up.

Kj said...

what a fabulous story. i do love to read your blog. i love you style.

i'm definitely hooked.

Heather said...

We have a mama (mamas?) that brings her babies to raid our birdfeeder every year. Your story is much more interesting.

Mandy said...

I SOOOO thought you were talking about cats. What a great story. You're very kind to feed what most people in Ontario view as pests.

I loved this entry.

Jobthingy said...

awww.. they are so cute. :)

Mommy Cracked said...

Anyone who feeds ANY animal, especially a stray, is tops in my book. I loved this post.

Trudie said...

You're definitely my kind of people - I'd also be feeding them.
We have a band of squirrels raiding our bird feeders all winter - much to the utter dismay of our dogs. They turn almost ballistic at the sight of the squirrels - who in turn just keeps on eating. Your Horace is too dognified for such outbursts, I take it;)

Adrian said...

What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

We went camping once (well, in a cabin, that's my idea of camping). There were some raccoons around, so I stayed up all night and left a trail of bread to lead them up to the door. After a while, they followed the bread right up to the front door and I was nose to nose with one of them. It was actually really cool, but then someone made a noise and they ran away. I love little animal encounters like that!

a kelly said...

This has got to be one of my top ten Diva posts....
You've got the making of an awesome childrens book here...A Deal is a Deal....
awesome!

tinsenpup said...

They're sooo beautiful! I know you're not supposed to feed wild animals, but a contract is a contract. If you ever move on, you could always wean them off the extra support slowly.

KathyLikesPink said...

If the raccoons in my neighborhood were polite enough to knock I'd give them sandwiches too!

Unfortunately we have riff-raff, who knock over garbage cans and leave messes!

Angella said...

What a sweet story! Raccoons generally freak me out, but those ones look adorable :)

Momma said...

You had me through the whole story. Sometimes it takes me a while to catch on. But I think it's wonderful that you're still caring for Charlie's family. What a cool little tale!

Peace - D

Mental P Mama said...

That is the most heartwarming story I've read in a loooong time. So sweet.

mamatulip said...

You got me on this post, LOL!

Sweet post, Kelly.

Stacey said...

I've never seen a raccoon in the flesh. I think our possums are as close as we get to raccoons in Australia and damned if I'd ever feed them.
Yours are much cuter than ours, though.
Its a good blog that gets me shedding a tear over vermin.

Karen said...

I, too, was thinking cat. I'd never have guessed it was a raccoon - and now you've got a whole family! How fun.

Melisa said...

Aww, nice post. And nice surprise ending, because I was totally like "HUH?" all the way through until the end.

That's what good writing will do! :)

Laura said...

What a little twist!

My uncle had a pet racoon - Sammy - he also liked peanut butter crackers!

Jill said...

OK, I'm such a cheeseball that I got teary eyed reading this. Such a sweet story... I'd feed them too!

Tracey said...

Hey, not a bad clause in the house contract.

Dawn said...

I loved this story! Those babies are adorable. I also thought Charlie was a cat.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

This is an incredible story.

Shannon said...

Well now, that is soooooo cute. How great you guys are still feeding them :-) We had some here but they were not of the very friendly variety, I'm afraid.

oda41143 Missy said...

I'm shaking in my shoes. I can't stand racoons. I'm glad you were able to keep your promise, I would never have been able to do so.

SciFi Dad said...

It is a beautiful story.

However, I have to admit, if my neighbours knew I was feeding raccoons out my back door, they'd be pretty pissed off.

(Not saying that to criticize; just sharing.)

lattemommy said...

Pretty good deal, if it gets you the home of your dreams for below market value. Like others, I totally thought the story was about a cat. Surprise! You're brave to feed the raccoons - I'd be totally afraid of them. I'm a big chicken.

Does Charlie's daughter have a name?

Rachel said...

I absolutely loved this.
I kept trying to figure out what Charlie was. Love it.

John-Michael said...

There has never been the slightest of doubt in your Heart's willingness to embrace Life in all of her fullness. This too, is yet another demonstration of that Spirit that has so easily endeared me to all that you have revealed to be the character and Soul of who you are. In brief (I saw that raised brow of doubt [smile]), I like You!

Lovingly ...

caramama said...

I love you even more after reading this. Good for you guys watching out for the animals and keeping your end of the deal.

Pregnantly Plump said...

That is so cute! I was thinking it might be a cat or a wolf. I'm so glad it wasn't a wolf!

Maureen said...

Wow, that was great.... such cuties!!! I would want to take care of them too. Loved it.

mindi said...

What a sweet story!!
I thought Charlie was a dog :D

Alexandria said...

I absolutely LOVE this post!!! Beautiful story and great picture lol.

secret agent mama said...

I thought Charlie was a dog, too.

Great story about great people!

Rach (Mommy Learns to Blog) said...

GREAT writing! I really thought Charlie was a woman at first. Then some sort of animal. But NEVER did I think raccoon! Around here, they are menaces to society and we would not be feeding them. But your little raccoons are so adorable! Yay for getting the house of your dreams, and for carrying out your end of the bargain. I agree iwht whoever said this is the makings of a great children's book!

Krystyn said...

What a cute little story. So good of you to keep your end of the bargain.

TONYA said...

Phew, for a moment there I thought Charlie and her daughter were homeless 'people' and I was feeling so sad and wanting to rush right over there to help, but I see that they are the cutest little critters and you have it completely under control. Good job keeping up your end of the deal.

Lady M said...

Well written and great picture! I thought they were dogs until the end.

Jen said...

Oh how cute!

My 17 y/o brother left his bike helmet out in the yard last week, and when he went out to retrieve it, he found a baby raccoon sleeping inside. A friend of theirs who has several pet coons agreed to keep it and raise it. Have you considered catching them so they can be vaccinated?

JCK said...

Oh, what an amazing story! Thanks for sharing it.

salleebythesea said...

What a warm, sweet story! I love that you kept us in suspense.

Cee said...

omg, I'm so gullible. You got me! I was totally thinking Charlie was a person this whole time. Still a sweet story though :) Those little racoons are so cute...

Casey's trio said...

I LOVED this story and the pic at the end was priceless. Who can blame them for coming back to you night after night?

Kyla said...

Such a sweet little tale!

kittenpie said...

Oh, they are ADORABLE.
And good for you for keeping your deal about raccoons. I bet if that old gentleman knew, he'd be really delighted.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Love it!

Beth said...

I agree, you are a wonderful family for keeping up with his 'home' request.

Great story~

womaninawindow said...

So glad we're talking raccoons and not people. You had me, you evil genius, you totally had me. (Glad you're feeding 'em still.)

Aunt Becky said...

Now, my heart nearly burst with sweetness. I love the picture.

I'm such an animal nut that if Charlie's daughter came to my house, Dave would have to worry that I'd invite all the babies in to share my bed.

Elaine A. said...

Well, you know, if you didn't hold up your end of the bargain they'd go somewhere else and wouldn't that just be a shame? ; )

ewe are here said...

Oh wow. I was convinced it was going to be cats!

Indy said...

I love this post. I would feed them too. I wish I could have some racoons knock on my door. So sweet. I do have a million birds that I feed in my backyard and some cranky squirrals who eat all my food. Love this story!

Jaina said...

Awww, this made my heart go all melty.

Helen E.M. Wright said...

Good story!!!! ;)

Shellie said...

That was a great deal you made! Loved the story.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Precious little rascals!

kbreints said...

OMG I Love this! Such a cute post!

Amy said...

So sweet!

Queen of My Domain said...

I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't this. How neat is this. I'm glad you kept feeding Charlie and family.

Jen M. said...

LOVE THIS post.

Angel said...

I love this post :)

b*babbler said...

Classic!

Oddly enough, I really do love raccoons. Really, they're just trying to get by in an environment we've created for them.

Danielle said...

I'm horribly sorry for not really like critters. At all.

But this?

Made me cry and I would honor that deal every night too if it were me. That's the sweetest thing!!

Kimmylyn said...

This post sucked you in immed. You are so talented in your writing.. what a cute story.

Melody said...

This made me tear up. Wow.

Mary Beth said...

We had a raccoon family that visited us every night at our other house. We would feed them hard boiled eggs, lollipops and cat food. We referred to them as the outside cats.