Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Marshmallow Tree and Binky's Big Adventures

The problem with spending so much time at the cottage is that I come back with far too many photos. OK, so it's not a serious problem. I know what to do with them - post them here, of course.

What? You've never seen a marshmallow tree before? They only bloom at night, and only by the glow of the campfire. By day, the mallows mysteriously disappear shortly after the young raccoons begin exploring.

Speaking of which, remember Bubbles? She's maturing nicely, don't you think?

She's a little bit shy, but as gentle as can be with her human friends. She now spends her full time up at the cottage (no more going home when Theresa departs for a few days or a week) and all night out on her own to forage for food. She still comes around to the deck for occasional muchies and a bit of socializing. She allows us to hand feed her if we wish, taking cat food from our hands very gently, and she'll accept petting while she eats. She's become a lovely little lady.

Sadly, her banana-eating baby brother Bayley disappeared a few weeks ago, never to return. He was much too young to survive on his own and I'd like to think that some other kind soul found him and cared for him. He was such a sweetie and sorely missed.

About a week after his disappearance, Theresa acquired a new kit named Binky. She's much younger than either of the other two but she thinks she's top dog in the raccoon world. She's a wild little hellion who is part Tasmanian devil and part angel. Binky loves to bite - not aggressively but more like a puppy needs to gnaw on things. Those things happen to be hands and faces.

She's also very dependent on her humans right now, and almost always seeks out a lap in which to settle, groom and fall blissfully asleep. (Photo credit goes to Frank)

She also likes to climb, as any self-respecting raccoon would.

But until recently she was afraid to come back down and needed coaxing. The first time she climbed a tree, it took her at least a half hour to climb down - inch by inch. Once she was finally close enough to grab, she nuzzled into my arms and fell deeply asleep on my lap. That's when I fell deeply in love with her.

One morning, I decided to go for a walk. Theresa's sheepdog, Duncan and Benny tagged along willingly. This was in September, after most folks were no longer up in cottage country - at least not during the week. Benny isn't very road smart and I'm always nervous that someone will drive around one of the curves or over the top of a hill when the dogs are trotting up ahead, so I keep a steady eye on them. We had already walked the long road which leads from the cottage to the main dirt road, when I turned away from the dogs to look glance behind me. I saw something in the middle of the road and it was moving our way...

Not one to be left behind, Binky had followed us up the hill and was trailing behind us on the main road. This photo was taken the next day on the side road when she followed us yet again. And again, every time we attempted to take a walk. If she wasn't so tiny, I'd just let her trot after us but she's much too small to be easily seen by a driver coming over a hill or around a bend. She just as readily followed us back to the cottage each time. Really, this little girl is going to have to learn that she's actually a raccoon.

But for now, we're more than happy to offer her food, warmth, comfort and love. There's plenty of time to grow up and learn the harsh realities of being wild.

Binky won't be released this year. She was hand raised for the few weeks before Theresa got her and she's still much too young to make it on her own. When Theresa brings her home, she settles in with her cats. They all sleep on the same bed. It looks like it's going to be a cozy winter for Miss Binky.


Tom said...

Just wonderful. Thank you!


Brian Miller said...

awww///i lov your raccoon pics...going to show them to the boys when they wake up...and i love picking fresh marshmallows off the tree...teehee.

CiCi said...

Wonderful pictures showing time with the raccoons most of us only dream of.

holdingmoments said...

Amazing post. It must be great sharing those special moments like that.

DJan said...

Although I have an aversion to raccoons (after helplessly watching three of them carry a little dog down a storm drain), these are so cute that I am enjoying them anyway. I wonder if these guys are so tame because they were raised by humans?

ellen abbott said...

I love your raccoon stories. And the pictures are just wonderful.

Lori said...

I can totally understand how you fell in precious are these photo' wonderful that Binky will keep warm this winter! :) XX

Cricket said...

What's going on up there? How do you manage to keep getting all these new baby raccoons? Enquiring minds and all that.

I suppose Rocky Raccoon would be a bit obvious, but still. Especially for the one of the raccoon sauntering up the road.

Leah J. Utas said...

Awwww. Cute.

Mental P Mama said...

These beautiful rescues never cease to amaze me. I would have a hard time releasing them at all.....

Anonymous said...

It must be very scary for a small raccoon to come down a tree for the very first time. Such sweet looking faces they have.


Samson said...

wonderful set of photo's

Mage said...

First of all, thanks for leaving me notes on my quilting blog. I think you are my only reader as I post randomly. I much appreciate any word.

This story of Binkey and his family is better than charming. It could so easily be turned into a children's book. Even tho I grew up out in the country, I had never seen a racoon in my neighborhood. Skunks, possums, and rattlesnakes, yes, but not raccoons. Delightful.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Wonderful photos and story. Binky is adorable.

She Who Carries Camera said...

Oh my goodness! You need to put this in my "sweet" post!! How friggin adorable!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful story. I'd fall in love with Binky, too (she reminds me our wild puppy, Belle!) Jillsy sent me over here knowing I'd especially like this one because for a time, we were blessed to be adopted by a wild guinea fowl, Frankie, who went on our walks like one of the dogs and insisted on coming inside to inspect the house every afternoon. Something finally got him. I miss that little guy. Enjoy these wild things while you can!

LadyFi said...

Those racoons are too adorable for words! And I LOVE that marshmallow tree!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful shots.

Rosaria Williams said...

A marshmallow tree is just the ticket on any camp-out! Your raccoon is adorable!

Don said...

So that's where marshmallows come from.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Awww!!!! I love Miss Binky!!!! So precious!!!! And the photos are simply fantastic!!!! A marshmellow tree? Priceless. You are such a wit. Love it! I think this is one of my favorite of your posts! Such warm happy smiles it gives me! Thanks, Hilary!!! Love, Janine XO

Joanna Jenkins said...

How cute is THAT!!!! Love the marshmallows-- never thought of that trick.

Cheers, jj

VM Sehy Photography said...

These are really sweet pictures. Sorry to hear Bayley never returned. Hope he found a good home, too.

Travis Erwin said...

This reminds me of a great raccoon story I need to share on my blog. It is in no way as sweet as yours nor will it have the many fine pics to go along with.

Maggie May said...

That was a lovely account of the racoons and the photos were excellent.
Thank you for identifying my mystery weed. They are known as Himalayan Balsam here, apparently.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Oh good lord I love that racoon and I love you all for raising her. What A CUTIE!

Pauline said...

marvelous read. I wanted to snuggle that little Binky myself!

Claudya Martinez said...

I wish I had a marshmallow tree in my backyard. Home grown marshmallows taste so much better than store bought. Don't ya think?

messymimi said...

Wonderful to be able to hand raise and release them. That is ideal, and your pictures are lovely as usual.

SandyCarlson said...

These are great shots. The raccoon photos melted me away tonight. Your problem of too many pix benefits me. I am greedily delighted!

Karen said...

What lucky racoons! Your pictures are adorable! But when they get older, will they look for the marshmallow trees for food??? :P

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

I love the picture of Binky in the tree, bathed in light and shadow. Great photos, as always.

Tammie Lee said...

it is so amazing how you have a relationship with a raccoon. Lovely to see how sweet it can bee!

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Tom. Good to see you. :)

• Brian, I hope your boys liked them but that they aren't asking for a pet raccoon. It takes a long time to grow a marshmallow tree. ;) Thanks for stopping by. :)

• TechnoBabe, they're like a dream come true for me too. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Keith, it truly is. Thanks so much. :)

• DJan, That had to be a horrible sight to witness. City raccoons grow really big and bold. I'm sorry that you had this experience. Hand-raising them is the only reason they're this tame. And they won't be like this forever. Once they're on their own, they'll become wild as they should. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks very much, Ellen. I'm glad you enjoyed. :)

• She sure is a sweetie, isn't she, Lori? Thanks for your visit. Much appreciated. :)

• Cricket, Theresa is a rehabilitator for small critters like these guys and squirrels.. etc. So her name is on a list at wildlife centers for when an orphan is found. Yeah, Rocky Raccoon works for me.. and for Binky. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks for the visit, Leah. :)

• MPM, they're generally not quite as difficult to release as you might think because it tends to happen gradually. Before you know it, they're independent. Binky is going to be really hard though. But not this year. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Di, yes. She was so afraid but she did it and before the week was out, she was an old pro at it. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Samson. :)

• Maggie, thank you so much for your very kind words. I hope you do get to see a raccoon sometime. They're really a delightful creature to watch. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Pat. Much appreciated. :)

• Jillsy, thanks kindly. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

• Barbara, the story of Frankie sounds like a lovely one. If you blogged about him, I'd love to read it. Perhaps you can send me the link? Thanks so much for stopping by for a visit. And thanks to Jillsy for sending you. :)

• LadyFi thank you kindly. :)

Hilary said...

• Lakeviewer, thank you. They're lucky critters to live in a marshmallow forest, eh? ;)

• Don, yes. Stick around and you'll learn lots here. ;)

• Janine, thank you so much for such kind comments. You never fail to make me smile. :)

• Joanna, thanks for the visit. I'm glad you enjoyed the critters. :)

• VM, thank you. I sure hope so too. :)

• Travis, I hope to read that story soon. Looking forward to it. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Maggie, thank you. I guess they're known as that here too.. and as Touch-me-nots. They're fun to pop. ;)

• Gary, she's a cutie, isn't she? Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the Binkster. :)

• Pauline, thank you. Drop by anytime. I'm sure she'll oblige - and then bite your nose. ;)

• Mami, you're so right. They're much fresher and that keeps them from catching aflame when roasting them over the campfire. Thanks for the visit. ;)

• Messymimi thanks very much. I'm glad you liked them. :)

• Sandy, thank you so kindly. It pleases me to know that you enjoyed them. :)

• Thanks, Karen. I'm sure they'll be in full of new marshmallow blossoms, come spring. :)

• Thanks kindly, Linda. Much appreciated. :)

• Tammie Lee, I'm sure it could work like that (to some extent) with most any mammal. At least for a little while. Thanks for the visit. :)

the Bag Lady said...

I love the racoon stories! We don't have racoons in this area, so I only know the good side of them from your stories. :)

Cloudia said...

I* love that face and all this wonderful post!

Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Susie @ A Slice of My Life said...

Awww...such sweet little babies!

I remember when we first moved up north and a family of racoons came to visit. We were charmed and went out to visit with them and feed them treats.

The next day when we told people, they we're horrified. Apparently it's really bad to make friend with them in the 'burbs.

I'm glad I get to oogle at your sweet racoon buddies.

Zuzana said...

Oh yes, please share all your pictures with us, how can we get tired of seeing such stunning images.:) The raccoons are so cute and you captured them so well, I love the one of the shiny eyed one sitting in the tree, he looks so mischievous.;)
Have a lovely Friday dear Hilary

Dave said...

I enjoyed your photos and stories about your raccoons Hillary. I am amazed that these wild animals will let you befriend them. - Dave

Loz said...

Great story - can't say I've ever seen a raccoon in real life before, let alone thought people might be hand raising one.

Bimbimbie said...

Brilliant just brilliant - don't know how many times I went aww awwww awwwwww!!!

I've got some marshmallows wonder if my possums would like some with their banana tonight hmmmm ;)

and that photo of the two dogs - little 'n large walking side by side down the lane - that would be an other awwwwww wrapped in a smile*!*

Indrani said...

You a have a cute friend. Lovely shots.

Friko said...

racoons are totally alien creatures in my world but thanks to you i am getting to know them a little.

Sueann said...

I so love the stories of the raccoons! They are all so adorable and your care for them is tender and loving.
The photos of the adventure are amazing! Love every one of them!
Marshmallow tree?? Ha!!

Steve Gravano said...

Well this was an enlightening post. For years now I've been looking to pick marshmallows, and naturally living on Long Island and being surrounded my marshlands I've muddied my boots looking in every marsh for the little treats. Little did I know they grew on trees in Canada.
I love the raccoon pictures too!

järnebrand said...

I love your raccoon photos! Binky is soooo cute. :) Hugs/ Jo.

~JarieLyn~ said...

Oh my gosh, Hilary. This just warms my heart. I love all the photos of the raccoons and the stories too. It is amazing to be able to connect so affectionately with a wild animal. They are so cute too. I love that first picture of binky with her tongue sticking slightly out. I think it's humorous that she followed you on your walk.

Brenda Pruitt said...

Oh, I'm in love with her myself! What a cutie-pie. Just as my Bonnie cat mysteriously disappeared (and we think a hawk got her), I so hope Bayley returns. I get so sad thinking about them both. Out there in the big world, defenseless.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that post really made me happy and smiley!!! Seeing the sheepdog brought back memories of my first dog when I was a kid, she was a sheepdog too, her name was Fluffy, go finger. Hee hee! Great post Hilary!

Anonymous said...

PS: I think the marshmallow tree must be native to Southern ON! I've only heard of them, but have never seen one in the wild!

Reb said...

Oh, Binky is adorable! Love the marshmallow tree too!

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Oh girl, ya have waaay too much fun out there in the wilderness.

Your pics along with the stories are just wonderful.

God bless ya and have a magnificent weekend sweetie!!!

Anonymous said...

Very nice pics of the raccoon babies. Binky is adorable. I hate that one went missing. They are fortunate to have such caring people.

Linda said...

Very nice pics of the raccoon babies. Binky is adorable. I hate that one went missing. They are fortunate to have such caring people.

imbeingheldhostage said...

I love your little racoon photos and never tire of them! I am going to have to look into a marshmallow tree too-- definitely need one of those in my garden! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Who defiles a tree with marshmallows? It's like I don't even know you! ;)

Cute raccoon though.

You should name her "Happenstance". It's a good name.


Hilary said...

• Baggie, I'm glad you're hearing about the good side of these critters. There's far more of that than the bad. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks for the visit, Cloudia. Her face is irresistible, isn't it? :)

• Susie, it's true. It's not such a good idea to get them used to you. They get bolder each time and before you know it, they're sitting at your dinner table demanding Creme Brulée for dessert. ;) They sure do charm though. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Zuzana, thank you kindly, my friend. It's very true. Binky is highly mischievous and she gets away with a lot because she's so cute. They're easy to love. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Dave, they were each orphaned at a very young age and had no choice but to allow Theresa to care for them. They think she's their Momma now. The trick will be to get Binky to learn that she's really a raccoon. Bubbles has figured that part out by now and I suspect she'll do alright. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Welcome, Loz and thank you kindly. Theresa has raised several. Raccoons have an unfortunate way of finding trouble and leaving behind orphans. They sure are lovely creatures to know. I'm very grateful to have them in my life. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll return soon. :)

• Bimbimbie, thank you so much. I know what you mean about saying "Awww." That happens with us several times a day with these sweeties around. I'll bet possums would love marshmallows! Please let me know how they take to them. I'm glad you liked the photo of little Benny and big Duncan. They're good buds. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very much, Indrani. :)

• Friko, they're a delight to know. I'm glad you're becoming acquainted with them. :)

• SueAnn, thanks so much for your always-kind words. They're very much appreciated. :)

• Steve, stick around. There's lots to learn around here. ;) Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos.. and that you finally know how marshmallows grow. :)

• Jo, thanks very kindly. She's a keeper. :)

• JarieLyn, thanks so much for your very kind words. I'm so glad you're enjoying the photos of these sweeties. They keep us smiling through the day too. :)

• Brenda, I'm so sorry to hear about your Bonnie cat. That had to be a devastating loss for you. I just can't imagine. I'm somewhat fearful that one of the Bald Eagles inhabiting the cottage area will get one of the raccoons or Benny the JRT. Thanks very much for stopping by. :)

• Rainy, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. That's a cute name for a sheep dog.. I won't ask why though. ;) Yes, the marshmallow tree is indeed native to Southern Ontario.. in cottage country only. ;)

• Thanks, Reb. I'm happy you liked the post. :)

• Nezzy, we really do have a lot of fun at the cottage. Thanks so much for your very sweet words. They're so appreciated. :)

• Linda, thanks very kindly. I'm glad you enjoyed the pics. :)

• IBHH, good idea. If you plant it, they will come. ;) Thanks for the visit. :)

• ST, you made me laugh. And I think Happenstance is a good name to but we'd have to call her Happy for short and that's probably just a little too cutsie. Unlike Binky. And Bubbles. ;) Thanks for the visit. :)

Kerri Farley said...

Oh my ..... this has been such a wonderful post! I felt like I was right there with you and able to snuggle with the racoons. And FABULOUS images!!

Dianne said...

you are all the most wonderful people!! raccoons throughout the land speak your names

I adore the photo of Duncan (who I love from Frank's post) and Benny - the size difference is both amusing and touching

photowannabe said...

This is delightful Hilary. I love the picture of Binky following you and the one of the dogs trotting down the road. The cottage is a magical place. Thanks for sharing.

s.m. said...

Nice blog!

lime said...

so sad to hear about bayley. bubbles is just as adorable as ever though and binky certainly does seem to have lots of personality. really amazing how you capture that so well in your photos!

Hilary said...

• Kerri, I'm glad you were able to get a few vicarious snuggles in. I'm glad you enjoyed. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Dianne, you're too kind. Yes, Benny and Duncan are good friends (unless Benny mooches around Dunc's food). They are a cute pair for sure. Thank you so much for such sweet words. :)

• Sue, thank you. It sure does feel like magic to be there amid such great critters. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Welcome, Grandma's Scrapbook and thanks for stopping by. :)

• Lime, thanks very much. Bubbles is a sweet, gentle creature and you've got Binky pegged. She's like a cartoon character. And a joy to know. Thanks for such kind words. :)

L. D. said...

It is a wonderful story. She is so cute. Our mother raccoon did not return this year. She had only one baby last year and I guess she was getting old. She lived in town in our large hollow of a maple tree.

catarinah said...

What a beautiful story and the best part - there is more to come! Am so looking forward to see your new posts about your cute racoons, but also to see your new photos that often are breathtaking. Thank your for a lovely blog! Btw- no racoons where I live, on the Greek island of Kalymnos...:)

Sandra said...

after reading this, I'm in love with Binky too. My problem would be keeping myself from making her totally dependent on me.

Hilary said...

• Larry, thank you. It's so easy to become attached to these wonderful beasts, isn't it? I'm sorry your mama raccoon hasn't returned. Maybe one of her offspring will take up shop in your area. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Welcome, Catarinah and thank you so much for the kind words. Over time, I sure hope to have more raccoon stories. I'm not positive if we'll cross paths with Bubbles up at the cottage again this year (hoping to though) but we will no doubt see Binky through the winter from time to time at Theresa's house. Thanks for the visit and I sure hope you're return soon. :)

• Sandra, that is indeed a struggle. I guess we'll have to see how she fares out over the winter. Right now, she really does think she's a cat or something. Hopefully next year she will crave her independence but just not too soon. Thanks always for stopping by. :)