my open-window policy

This isn't my house, no, but you get the idea

I have been thinking, lately, about weeding my driveway.

It is paved, yes; and apparently the impermeability of asphalt has been vastly overstated, as there are weeds growing through the cracks all over the bloody thing. Oddly, I don’t want to weed it. I like it. All of those supposedly fragile bits of green cracking their way right up through our technological magnificence. Take that! they say. Ha! Some Masters of the Universe you turned out to be.

I have been thinking about raccoons, too.

We have no garage; therefore, the garbage is kept outside; therefore, raccoons eat it. This does not philosophically bother me. After all, simply by putting something in the garbage, I’ve declared it to be a useless thing of no further value to anyone, and as such, I’d rather it find a good home in the warm belly of a living creature than sit, unrotting, in a landfill for 500 years. That this places me outside of mainstream North American opinion I am well aware. I don’t like the mess, but honestly, how can I complain? We came in, chopped their homes to the ground, and now we expect them to slink away quietly like friendly and cooperative wildlife and make a home for themselves somewhere we don’t have to be inconvenienced by the needs we prevent them otherwise from filling. I say, if our occupied human communities showed this grit … actually, when our occupied human communities show this grit, we call them terrorists and blow them up. In any case, my sympathies are firmly with the raccoons.

Which doesn’t mean I enjoy scraping rotting food off of the patio stones once a week, so I caved eventually and found a heavy rock to place on the lid. The raccoons, clever devils, chewed a hole near the bottom of the plastic garbage can and spilled it all over the patio stones anyway.

Frances says that raccoons are “messy little composers” and that if she were a raccoon, she would do the considerate thing and take away what she’d like to eat in a garbage bag, and eat it neatly after climbing through the crack in the front steps where we suspect the raccoons hide out in poor weather. That would be very much like a Frances-raccoon, but it’s not like the actual raccoons, who make a mess.

I admire them. They’ve made a life for themselves in hostile surroundings, and proven to be clever and much tougher than we are.

My home was never going to be separate from nature anyway. There’s bugs in the walls, eh? Ants, spiders, millipedes. Let them stay. Why not? There’s air–air’s nature, right?–there’s water, and water’s definitely nature, even chlorinated and filtered. There’s Frances’s little pots of half-starved seedlings on the windowsill. There’s the wood beams in the walls–that’s nature–the steel posts–nature too. Gypsum, concrete, cotton; nature, nature, nature. And, of course, there are the warm animal bodies themselves: two guinea pigs, two primates. And apparently a couple of raccoons eating silently under the front steps.

I am a sorry excuse for a suburbanite. I like my civilization happily permeable, hopelessly intermixed with nature–because the suburbs are nature, just mangled to within a bare millimetre of their lives. I like to think of the human nature of my little home and the non-human nature of its surroundings knotted together like the warp and woof of a woven fabric.

I’m not going to keep non-human nature out of ‘my space’ no matter how hard I try, so why not welcome it in?

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