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My neighbours--the reverend and his wife, not the Native cheif/minister-in-training-- are trapping raccoons. They trap them in cages and release them in a park across the city, and they haven't found their way back to Little Italy. Yet.

We had a raccoon problem. At first we would hear a rustle. Then see the family silouhetted on the garage roof in descending size, like Russian dolls. Gus would hiss. Dogs would howl. They seemed impervious to other animals' complaints. As inevitable to Toronto streets as smog or the guy with electric tools at 9 on a Saturday morning.

Then the raccoons got impudent. Walk right towards you while you were sitting in the back, having quiet conversation. I mean, they *looked you in the eye*. They forced you inside. they would not "skat". And although my favorite toy was a realistic-looking raccoon puppet (fluffy) when I was a kid, the real thing terrifies me.

One icy night, the cab I was riding in hit something. We got out a few yards down and looked back at the enormous twitching creature. At first I freaked, thinking we had hit a dog. Then I felt relieved. It just was a big raccoon.

Just? It was horrible. Suddenly, the twitching stopped. Like in a cartoon, it gasped, froze, and rolled over. I could not get the image out of my head for days. I dreamt about it. I couldn't shake the memory of that last, dignified breath.

So now it is warm again and I am wondering: where are all the raccoons?

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bio: adina

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