Baby Raccoon Story

Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997
From: Karen R Kotchek
Subject: a short story cut from a book

Unfortunately, the person who sent this to me did not say from which book, or who the author was. If you can fill in this missing info so that I can properly attribute it, please let me know!

Finally, a response!:
From: Kathy Yarema
Subject: baby raccons
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 2004

Hi I was just to your web site and read a few lines of your story. The name of the book is "Frosty, a raccoon to remember". I remember reading it as a child and still have it somewhere in the basement, packed for when the kids will enjoy it. It was about a park ranger I do believe and he raises Frosty at his ranger station. It was a wonderful book that touched my heart. The reason I was checking out your site was I needed some info on baby raccoons. I've aquired 3 when someone ran over the mother on a gravel road. I wanted to pinpoint their age. I will be looking after them for only a few days untill I can take them to the humane society in the city. They have a contact who cares for wild animals.

Thank You Kathy Y

From: Christine Wilson
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2006 1:53 AM
Subject: Info on your baby raccoon story.

I just read a book I own, Frosty: A Raccoon to Remember, by Harriett E. Weaver and was looking for some current information about it when I stumbled upon your page about the baby raccoon. The section you have of the book is actually an excerpt from chapter two. It is the TRUE story of Harriett E. Weaver (also the author), the only woman ranger in California's Big Basin Redwood State Park for over twenty years, and her adventures with a raccoon named Frosty. He was orphaned as a baby and brought to Harriett to take care of. He was a very mischievous raccoon who loved everything and everyone, and also a huge troublemaker. It is a very lovely, humorous, heartwarming book. Anyone who is an animal lover would adore it. It is full of personality and great detail. Anyone who reads it should expect to want their own baby raccoon! I hope this sheds some light on the subject. If there is anything further you would like to know about this book, feel free to contact me.

Christine Wilson

...Impatiently I turned my attention to our unwelcome guest. I had to admit that she was a darling little thing even if she had chosen to explore Big Basin. Her eyes were big and blue, her fur short and plushy, the colour of gold. She was just Frosty's size exactly. Never having introduced a coon and a kitten, I wondered what Frosty would do to her--or the other way around. Well, I decided, I'd better find out, for I had to take her over to my cabin. I went to the storeroom and and got the animal carrying cage, put her into it, and headed for the house.

As soon as I put the cage on the floor and opened its door, out walked the little gold nugget, mewing plaintively. Stiff-legged, Frosty drew away, flattened his head against his shoulders, and laid his ears back. Neither had ever seen one the other kind before. While they eyed eachother warily, I held my breath and waited.

For an electric moment both remained perfectly still. Then explosively, with all the delicate restraint of a cyclone, love burst into bloom. In an all-out rush that really should have scared the kitten half to death, Frosty bounded toward her with the Welcome Mat. Yet very gently he wrapped both his arms around her neck--and hugged her. Squish! Before she could gather herself together to spit at him, her heart melted completely. Frosty made goo of everyone like that.

My gooey heart got harder than a rock before the next morning. But that afternoon when I left the house, I was relaxed, and for once Frosty didn't screech me all the way to Headquarters. He was so busy it must have slipped his mind.

Already he had started swaggering and strutting back and forth, showing his guest what a terrific boy he was, and she was loving every minute of it. Everything he did made her eyes big with wonder. Of all the audiences he had so far played to, she made him feel the most important. Naturally he was going to live it up. As I closed the door behind me, I had to laugh, for I could hear Frosty's games of Hide-and-Seek and Tag romping noisily from the bathroom to the kitchen. I hoped Goldie was beginning to get the hang of how it all went.

"Well," I muttered aloud as I headed across Park Center,"maybe I'm going to live through this day after all."

That's when I thought--allthough all afternoon I had no cause to feel otherwise. Every time I looked in on Frosty and the Kitten I saw that they were having fun. Happy with eachother, they had even left their food untouched. Moreover, Frosty was so agog about showing off that he hardly noticed me at all. Everything seemed to be going fine. [famous last words]

So in the evening, I went peacefully to conduct the campfire, and afterwards patroled for an hour or two in the pickup with one of the rangers.

Just before midnight, I turned homeward at last, tired and ready for some rest. The next day would be Sunday, our big day of the week. Nearly all of us would be on the job from early until late, because Big Basin was sure to be jammed with even more tourists. As I walked down the path leading to my cabin, I remember thinking that I must be quiet, for Frosty and Goldie would be asleep. I even took off my boots so I could tiptoe into the house without disturbing them. "Don't stir up a rumpus at this hour," I cautioned myself.

As I eased the door open and peeked in, there was a resounding crash that echoed through the house and the forest. A stack of kettles had tumbled off the low shelf under the sink, and with nerve-wracking clatter and din were rolling and rattling their seperate ways all over the kitchen floor. By the time I got to them, Frosty had planted himself pertly in the middle of the biggest one, and was beaming at me. Nearby sat the kitten wide-eyed with admiration.

"Oh, no!" I breathed, unbeliving. " You can't still be at it!"

Oh, yes but he was, he told me unmistakably, with a quick toss of his head and eyes sparkling merrily. Yes, indeedy!

Blessed with an audience of two, now that I was home, Frosty shifted into high gear. Swaggering from room to room he took a swipe at both wastebaskets, tipped them over, and began strewing their contents far and wide. I discovered that he had removed the laces from my shoes, too, and that he had hidden in various places every one of the twenty pounds or so of English walnuts that had been in the lug box beside the kitchen stove. For weeks they rolled out of chairs and closet corners, sometimes without warning in the middle of the night. In addition, Frosty had climbed the bedspread and made his way to the table, where he had helped himself to the contents of my jewel case. At the end of the summer I found bracelets, beads, and earrings tucked away in the bedsprings and under the bathtub.

Sagging with weariness, I stumbled into the bathroom, only to find that my coon had generously powdered the floor with the can of Borax. What a mess! I dragged myself into the kitchen, got my mop and bucket, and went to work to clean it up. It took me a long time, what with Frosty riding the mop back and forth the way he did. Afterwards he had fun block-printing the walls with his wet hands as high as he could reach. Every few minutes he'd look over his shoulder at the kitten for approval, which he sure got, although somewhat numbly now. She was almost asleep with her eyes open, but she still thought he was wonderful. Filled with the joy of living, Frosty rose to bigger and finer things as the night--and I--dragged on.

By the time it appeared that I might go to bed at last, the kitten was swaying with exhaustion, her eyelids hanging at half mast. Once she fell over while trying to focus her eyes on our hero, who was just then trying to pull the bath mat out from under her.

At 1:30 AM, bleary-eyed with fatigue after nineteen hours on the go. I filled Frosty's hot water bottle and put it into his box. Then as always, I put him on it. "That," I thought, "is that for tonight."

But it wasn't. He simply climbed out and took up where he'd left off before I had so rudely interrupted him. Almost unable to navigate any longer, I dropped into a chair in the living room and closed my eyes while Frosty ran circles around the kitten trying to make her dizzy. He kept at it too until she fell flat. Taking a deep breath, I said aloud, "This has got to stop NOW. You're a perfect little stinker!" Then I got up and for the first time, picked Frosty up and paddled him.

You'd have thought such a surprising and shocking thing as this would have stopped his shenanigans then and there--but oh my, no. Frosty took it as applause even if he did take it on his rear end. Smiling broadly in appreciation, he hurried back to his cat-circling to see if he could make Goldie fall over a second time.

For that I paddled him again. Still he persisted. I grew desperate. I paddled him again and again, and the paddlings got harder until I was ashamed. Yet my disciplinary intent completely escaped my small coon. Really fired up with so much approval, he went right on, joyously cramming his normal waking hours (and my sleeping ones) full of those things that delighted his little coon heart.

At 2:30 AM his daytime and my graveyard shift met head on. "You're through for tonight, young man! Finished! KAPUT!" I bellowed. Shaking with anger and frustration. I stuffed him and his hot water bottle into the cat cage, and stomped out to the garage. There I stowed the cage in the car, shut the car door, shut the garage door, the house door and the bedroom door. I climbed into bed and pulled the covers over my ears. Within minutes Big Basin was quiet at last, except for the occasional bits of foliage that drifted down from high places.

Next moring I gave the kitten a bowl of milk and hurried to the garage, not knowing what I'd find. "Surely," I mumbled to myself, "he's pulled the cage to pieces by now and has unscrewed every nut an bolt inside the car. I'll bet anything he has the dashboard clock in pieces on the floor." With Frosty anything could have happened.

But nothing had. Nothing whatsoever. There in his cage all curled up in a tight ball, hands covering his face. Once he peeked furtively at me from between his fingers. Then, very, very slowly, he turned away. Obviously he wanted me to think he was asleep.

Inside the house I lifted him out of the cage and put him into his box. There he huddled in one corner with his back to me. He even refused his bottle. Quite a change from the cocky brat of the night before!

"Okay," I said. "I'll be independent, too." So a great big silence filled the cabin. We ignored eachother completely. He pouted in his corner; I ate breakfast without a word; and both of us were thoroughly miserable.

Every hour or two all morning, I came home and offered Frosty his bottle. But he would have none of it. Instead, he continued to crouch in the corner of his box without as much as a glance in my direction.

At mid morning Goldie was adopted by an elderly woodcutter and his wife down the canyon a few miles. I hope the kitten finally recovered from being an all night rooting section, and wasn't worn out the rest of her life. One thing for sure: she was going to have a loving home; she'd find no three-ring circus going on there.

As these good people drove away with their new pet, I took one more look at Frosty. He was still huddled in one corner of his box. Not very happily I left the house and returned to Headquarters, thinking to myself that with Frosty, I had to carry through. It was now or never. We had to find out who was boss in our family.

At lunchtime, it seemed that temporarily, at least, I was. Or maybe hunger pains drove Frosty to seek forgiveness. Anyway, when I sat down to eat, he crawled slowly and reluctantly out of his box and head down, ambled over to my chair and leaned against my foot. After a minute or two I gently picked him up.

Naturally I thought his first interest would be his bottle, but it wasn't. Instead, he climbed my jacket front and snuggled under my chin. Then he pressed his cold nose against my throat, and slipped an arm around my neck. More important to him than food, just at that moment, was telling me he was sorry, and that he wanted to make up so he could fell the warmth of my love once more. "You little scamp," I murmmured sofly, responding to his need by holding him against me gently and securely.

I know that he understood. No words were really necessary; but they broke a long, unwanted silence, and they must have been as comforting to him as his answering trill was to me. It came out of him querulously. At first it was almost inaudible, but it grew stronger and stronger as I patted him reassuringly. Pretty soon it became a mighty outpouring of pent-up grief.

Now who would have a heart so hard it couldn't melt when a baby coon confesses he has been a stinker, and promises not to do such things again--until he finds another opportunity? Not I. But I did tell him he'd better be more considerate of me, or I wouldn't last long enough to help him grow up and be free.

Shyly he finally brought himself to look up at me. A bottle of of warm milk and honey convinced him that regardless of yesterday's flunk in deportment, he was beloved just the same.

And so ended my first lesson on how to discipline a sweet little coon. I had just found that you could spank him till your hands were sore, and never change his mind one iota. But if you hurt his feelings he would fall apart, then and there. Anything but the horror of being banished to solitary confinement, with no audience to play to or anyone to love you! ....

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