"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
To my dear grandchildren,
The Mischievous Raccoon
"God Himself . . . formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited."
In the fading evening light, a family of raccoons comes cautiously out of the woods. Their masked faces make them look like little burglars, which they often are. Tonight they head for a tree loaded with ripe plums. The kits (baby raccoons) remain on the ground while the parents climb up and begin shaking branches, causing a shower of plums to fall. Then the whole family enjoys the dinner.
This fruit dinner is a real treat. Raccoons eat mostly frogs, crayfish, turtle eggs and clams taken out of shallow waters. Birds' eggs are also a favorite, especially chicken eggs. Sweet corn is another special treat. Raccoons stripping ears from the stalks have ruined many cornfields.
Although raccoons weigh only about twenty-five pounds, dogs are often surprised at a raccoon's fighting ability. It will not hesitate to attack a dog two or three times its own size. When being chased by a dog, it is clever at escaping. It will wade in water, run along fence tops, climb trees, back-track and leap down a hillside, all to break the scent trail the dog is following. Occasionally a raccoon may let a dog chase it into a lake. Then it will grab the dog by its neck and force its head under water until the dog drowns.
In spite of its sometimes nasty nature, a raccoon is a pretty animal. It has a a fox-like face with a black mask around jet-black eyes, erect ears, a black, button nose with whiskers, and a bushy, ringed tail. It is also very smart and soon discovers how to open latches on chicken coops, pry off garbage can lids, unscrew bottle caps, and even open refrigerators if given the chance.
This animal is another of the wonders of God's creation. He has given it many life-sustaining instincts and also an intelligence that allows it to learn things necessary for its survival. It is found both in the woods of the United States and Canada and in the deserts of Mexico and South America. Its life reminds us of the verse in the Bible:
"The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works. . . . The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their [food] in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing."
(Pslam 145:9, 15-16)
We think of these provisions of the Creator in connection with every creature, but it is also good to remember this prayer that should be in the heart of every boy and girl:
"Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. . . . O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days"