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In Our Own Backyard...Beware the things that go bump in the night

There's nothing like a long, leisurely holiday weekend to help get caught up on your sleep, your feet back on the ground and your perspective back in place. My dad used to refer to it as "body and soul coming back together again…."

And so, after a relaxing trip up the North Shore, a weekend of beautiful weather and going without the Internet, the evening news or the daily newspaper for four days, why did I feel so exhausted?

We'd arrived home thoroughly rested and in plenty of time to unload the truck, unpack our bags, put away the food and catch up on emails, voice mails, and "snail mail." We'd pacified our cats, who were miffed that we'd once again left them at the mercy of a cat sitter (despite the fact she coddles and spoils them). We’d rifled through all of the newspapers that had accumulated in our absence, and we even watched one of the television programs we'd recorded while we were away.

By the time we went to bed that night, we sank into the covers feeling totally relaxed and happy, thinking we were in an excellent place heading into the busy post-holiday week ahead.

All that ended about 11:30 p.m.

We were startled from our slumber by the sound of something slamming into our bedroom window. My husband and I both sat bolt upright in foggy-headed confusion, trying to focus on just what it was we'd heard. He headed for the yard light that illumines the deck off our bedroom, and I headed to the nearby picture window to see what I could see.

And there, teetering on the deck railing, with the same deer-in-the-headlights look on its face as we had, was one of the biggest raccoons I'd ever seen! It seemed paralyzed by the sudden strong light, and it wasn't until I rapped on the window that it skittered over the edge of the railing and down the perilous 15-foot drop to the ground below.

It seems the nighttime marauder had been trying to get its paws on the hummingbird feeder that was hanging from a moveable metal arm attached to the deck railing, and in his or her sugar-induced excitement, the culprit must have lost its grip on the feeder and sent it crashing into the window!

In the glow of the yard light (and praying that no one would drive by at that particular point in time), I tiptoed out on the deck, banged on the rail one more time for extra measure and then unhooked the empty hummingbird feeder and brought it in.

But alas, the shot of adrenaline had already shot through our collective systems and we found it difficult to get back to sleep. When we did, it was only for about 45 minutes before we awoke to more chaos out on the deck. This time, my husband headed straight for the yard light and I plunged out the door to the deck (once again in my nightie) just in time to spy the striped tail of the raccoon disappearing over the railing once again.

Upon closer investigation of the "crime scene," I found that the raccoon had this time tried to get into the metal garbage can where I keep my bird seed. Having had similar problems in the past, I'd rigged it up with a bungee cord through the handles to anchor down the garbage can cover. But this time, the thwarted raccoon had used its sharp teeth to chew off one of the metal ends of the bungee cord and had just begun to knock off the top of the can when we awoke.

I tied the hook back on the stretchy cord with double knots, threaded it back through the handles of the can and went back to bed.

Sleep eluded us once again, and we felt the restfulness of the holiday weekend slowly slipping away.

Certain that we'd eliminated all of the issues with the raccoon, however, we both fell asleep at last and settled into a deep slumber — until one of the cats started to gag and threw up a hairball.

We were, it seems, home at last….