Who Was That Masked...

I used to throw pots out in the carport at our old house. It was wonderful working out of doors, but even with the west end screened off, it got awfully hot in the afternoon. I'd usually make pots in the morning, then wait until sunset and cool breezes arrived before kicking up the wheel again.

Of course I got visitors. The neighbor kids would all drop by and perch on the doorstep, begging bits of clay and tools, and offering suggestions about what to make next. I think I made everybody a pot at one time or another, and fired all manner of ceramic critters and creations.

After the kids went off to bed, the neighborhood cats appeared. They'd materialize out of the bushes or slink out from under the van to attack the catfood bowls Denise put out for them. They mostly ignored me, except for the one who jumped up on my lap once to get a closer look at what I was throwing. (Nowadays, she hangs out on my desk and sprawls on the mouse pad when I'm trying to use the computer.)

Last of all, the night shift would arrive. A little masked face would peep around the edge of the plywood, snag a bit of cat food, then disappear again. If I pretended not to notice, another masked bandit would dart out, and scoop up more kibble, stuffing it in her mouth. Eventually the whole raccoon family would be out, mother and three kits, sweeping the sidewalk for spilled food while never once taking their eyes off me. Every now and again we'd get a traditionalist, who insisted on washing his food in the cats' water dish.

I was always amazed at how dexterous their hands were. Even without looking, they never missed a nibble. I figured with a little training, I could make potters out of the lot of them...

Fortunately for the sweet corn in our garden, the only raccoons at our new place are on the pottery. You can find ring-tailed robbers on soup bowls, servers, pies, pitchers and cookie jars.