Deep in the Florida preserve lived a Barn owl. On the periphery of the preserve, there lived a raccoon. One evening, late at night, the barn owl went down to the pond for a quick bath. She looked up and noticed something scurrying nearby. It was a raccoon. He was dipping his hands in the water and rubbing his face.
“Hi there,” said Owl.
“Hi yourself,” said Raccoon.
They stayed silent for a while, each up to his and her own business at the pond until Owl broke the silence.
“It’s a nice night tonight,” she said, hopeful she could start a conversation.
“I’ll say,” said Raccoon.
“Do you come here often?” Said Owl.
“Yes,” said Raccoon. “My tree is inside the preserve.”
The Owl decided she would return the following night. Because she had not yet paired with another owl, Owl felt lonely flying around at night alone all the time. After a few more visits to the pond, she and Raccoon became fast friends.
One night Owl came to the pond to see Raccoon, but he was not there. She called out to him,
“Raccoon? Are you there?”
After a short while, he came running out from behind one of the houses across the pond.
“What were you doing over there?” She asked in surprise and worry.
“Well,” Raccoon began, “there is a cat that lives at that house, but the cat has ripped the screen open. I have been crawling in there at night to eat cat food.”
Owl felt alarmed when’s she heard this.
“But isn’t that dangerous?” She asked, more worried than before.
Raccoon shook his head slowly. “The humans saw me one time, but they just stared through the glass door.” He plopped down onto the grass. “Sometimes they leave the entire bag of food outside!” He smiled and rocked back, patting his belly.
Owl’s worry grew for her friend. Sure, he found an easy way to get a meal, but this could not be a long-term thing. For the next few nights, Owl flew around for miles, looking for places where Raccoon might find food.
The next night she arrived at their spot at the pond and saw Raccoon scurrying from behind the same house.
“Raccoon!” Owl began, eager to tell him the news, “I have been flying around all night and found this great spot for you. It’s a bush with many berries near several colonies of mice I like to hunt. We can go there together.”
Raccoon looked at her and cocked his head. “But Owl,” he said, “I’ve got a great thing here. And that bush is probably far away.”
Owl, still hopeful, said, “Why don’t you try and come. Surely it will be safer than eating from the human’s porch. How long will you be able to keep that up?”
“I don’t know,” said Raccoon, looking towards the pond, tossing in little sticks, “but this works great for me now. So I will keep to it.”
Owl stared ahead at the sparkling pond while Raccoon washed his face like usual. She felt hurt that Raccoon did not see the wisdom in what she said. It was dangerous finding food on the human’s property.
Owl had spent all night flying around to help her friend, but Raccoon still wanted to do things his way. She noticed a splash in the water—the light rippling on the surface.
I suppose he is a Raccoon, and I’m an Owl. He finds food his way, and I find it my way.
She looked at her friend, who was lying on his back now, happy, staring at the full moon in the sky. Owl decided she would relax about finding Raccoon and the cat food. She would rest about his safety. She would let Raccoon be Raccoon.
And they never talked about how they got their dinner again.