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MARTHA SEZ: ‘I thought raccoons and cats didn’t bother each other’

The leaves began turning early this year–a week to two weeks early, according to my friend Pearl. We were out for a walk on Hulls Falls Road in Keene with her little terrier, Mitzi, taking advantage of the beautiful Indian summer weather to enjoy the fall foliage.

Pearl used to live in Keene Valley, but she moved downstate last year, going against the tide. So many people are visiting and moving to the Adirondacks.

“You can’t even get near the hiking trails, unless you want to wait in line and then hike with about a hundred other people,” Pearl was saying. “Cars were parked all along the state road from Roostercomb Mountain to the Valley Grocery this morning.” She sighed.

“Too bad Mitzi can’t appreciate the beauty of peak leaf season,” Pearl remarked. “Not that it’s that great this year. There hasn’t been enough rain.”

Pearl, like many other people all across the United States, is feeling anxious and depressed, and just wants the year 2020 to be over.

“What are you anxious and depressed about?” I asked her.

“Well, let’s see,” Pearl said. “Politics, wildfires, looting, climate change, COVID. Pretty much everything.”

“At least Mitzi has a great sense of smell, even if she doesn’t care about the leaf color,” I told Pearl, trying to interject a brighter note into the conversation. “I’ll bet she can smell every other dog that’s passed this way, not to mention deer, coyotes, porcupines and all the other animals.”

Pearl, pulling on the leash attached to Mitzi’s harness in an attempt to drag the dog away from a particularly intriguing tree stump, didn’t answer.

We ended up going to Stewart’s so that Pearl could pick up a Lake Placid News and a quart of milk. Stewart’s in Keene is undergoing a huge renovation job.

“Here,” she said, handing me Mitzi’s leash, “could you hold onto her for a minute? I’ll be right back.”

No sooner had Pearl entered the store than my friend Darla came out.

“Oh hi,” Darla said, squatting down to pet the dog, “I was just picking up a few things for Mom.”

She stood up and, smiling, looked me in the eye.

“I want you to put a correction in the paper,” she said. “In your column you said I use 12 pounds of sugar a summer to make nectar to feed my hummingbirds. It’s 12 bags of sugar! The bags are 4 pounds each. I use almost 50 pounds of sugar.”

“Oh,” I said.

“They eat the sugar to get the energy to chase bugs. I call it bugging. Bugs are their main food source. Although they never eat those jumping spiders around my house. I wish they’d eat the jumping spiders.”

After Darla left, a middle-aged couple came out. The man eyed Mitzi.

“That dog is just about the size of the raccoon that attacked me,” he observed.

The woman, whom I took to be his wife, did not evince much interest.

He turned to me and showed me his arm, which was raked with three long scratches. “It was mauling my cat,” he told me. “It had my cat by the leg. I ran over and grabbed the raccoon, but it wouldn’t let go.”

“I thought raccoons and cats didn’t bother each other,” I told him. This was a subject I had devoted some time to, when my cat Jupiter was curious about a raccoon den under the back porch.

“My cat probably attacked the raccoon,” he said. “She’s 17 years old, but she kills everything. Rabbits, ducks, everything.” His wife cleared her throat.

“So I fought that raccoon until it finally let go, and then I grabbed it by the tail, and I swung it around and threw it 30 feet up in the air!”

This guy was lean and looked to be in good shape, but 30 feet? Pearl had come out by this time and was listening in.

“When it came down it hissed at me and then it ran away.”

“How is your cat?” I asked him.

“My cat?” He said, as if the question had caught him by surprise. “Oh, she’s all right. She kills everything.”

“You can’t make this stuff up,” he was saying as we walked away.

“Oh, yes, you can,” Pearl said.

I told her the raccoon wrestler reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t think who.

“Biff,” she said. “Your old friend Biff.”

But Biff is another story.

Have a good week.

(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the Lake Placid News for more than 20 years.)