This week’s column

Pub­li­ca­tion: Free­dom — OCR - Pla­cen­tia News-Times; Date:May 26, 2017; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: 3

Moth­er­ing all crea­tures, great and small

We cel­e­brated Mother’s Day recently, and for the past cou­ple of weeks, I’ve had an extreme case of moth­er­hood. Yes, rais­ing Mar­cus was filled with moth­erly moments, from dia­pers to diplomas.

Still, the events around me stirred my mater­nal instincts even more than usual.

It began with my 13-year-old show horse. He’s won­der­ful to ride, but his per­son­al­ity is that of a 6-year-old with ADHD, and he has a fused joint, a metal plate, and six screws in his leg as the result of an injury when he was four.

I knew I would not be able to ride him as long as a nor­mal horse, but it is now obvi­ous that I have to retire him, which means find­ing a new, cheaper place for him to live, prob­a­bly in Temec­ula. I’m dev­as­tated to send him so far away from me.

Mar­cus’ birth was won­der­ful, but I helped pull Snoopy out of his mom. There’s some­thing mag­i­cal about help­ing a horse give birth. Plus, I didn’t have to be drugged.

So he’s my baby, too. I’m wor­ried that he won’t under­stand, that he’ll think I aban­doned him. It’s like putting my child on the bus for sleep­away camp. What if he cries for his mom?

I had just begun to think ratio­nally about Snoopy when the rac­coons showed up in our chimney.

On Mon­day night, our dog, Duffy, spent the evening stand­ing in the fire­place and bark­ing at the damper. I spent the evening yelling at him to get out of the fire­place. Dale came home and tested the con­tents of the chim­ney flue by tap­ping on the damper with his golf club.

The flue growled at him.

We con­sid­ered our options, one of which was to light a fire and force the crit­ter out. That option was off the table when we heard babies chirp­ing. Dale climbed on the roof and shone a light down the chim­ney. He could see four lit­tle bod­ies squirm­ing around, and one pair of angry mama eyes, glar­ing at him.

After con­sult­ing with experts, we decided to let the rac­coons leave vol­un­tar­ily and then put on a spark arrestor to dis­cour­age them from return­ing. Fri­day morn­ing, I heard chirp­ing babies and tiny feet scur­ry­ing across our roof. They were gone.

Except they weren’t. One lit­tle baby was still in the nest. From Dale’s view on the roof, look­ing down, it was hud­dled in the cor­ner. When I tapped the damper with the golf club, it moved around.

All day, I heard chirp­ing from the chim­ney. I hoped Mama Rac­coon would come at dusk to pick up her last lit­tle munchkin.

No such luck. I went to bed that night feel­ing wor­ried about the baby. He had to be miss­ing his lit­ter­mates. He was prob­a­bly hun­gry. As a mom, I wanted to swoop in and take care of him. Nature has a way of weed­ing out the weak and infirmed. I just didn’t want it to be on my watch.

I tried to think of a plan to res­cue him. I even Googled what to feed a baby rac­coon, and where was the near­est wildlife res­cue center.

By Sun­day, it appeared that he had left the chim­ney. My opti­mistic heart is hop­ing Mama returned and he rejoined his family.

Feel­ing mater­nal toward horses and rac­coons may seem silly, but I guess I’ll always be a mother, even for four-legged critters.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

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