Wishing for a wild raccoon

Published 11:56 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

Eliot Wigginton of “Foxfire” fame published a book titled “I Wish I Could Give My Son a Wild Raccoon.”

Wigginton’s wish for his “son” was that he could experience the same wide-eyed wonder of childhood innocence that those of us, on whom gravity is exerting a heavy tug, experienced.

In giving our children, what we never had, in essence “the world,” perhaps, we have robbed them of its wonders.

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That has never been more evident to me than on Christmas night when my nine-year-old grandson was walking into doors and stumbling up steps with only the tuff of blond hair visible as he was connected to an iPod and oblivious to the merriment of Christmas all around him.

What stark contrast that was to just a few days before when we were in the mountains and he was hiking rocky trails, fishing his granma out of an icy mountain stream, plucking pine cones from high in a tree and cupping his hands over his mouth giving “crow” calls that bounced off the mountains right back to him. Like a wild raccoon.

Makes me wonder if we are giving our children too much and leaving them with too little.

Some years back, Sis, Tater Bug and I were on our way to Colorado. The “old” among us thought it would be fun to have a picnic in the shadows of the Gateway Arch. But, no, Tater Bug didn’t want to stop.

“But you want to see the Gateway Arch,” we said in an effort to entice him.

“I’ve already seen it.”

“No, you haven’t.”

“Yes, I have. On TV.”

And, children have “seen” it all. But too often they have not experienced “it” with wide-eyed wonder. Like a wild raccoon.

Maybe I was “deprived” as a child. We only took two family vacations. One to Louisiana to visit an air corps buddy of Daddy’s and another destined for Dayton Beach. We never made it to Daytona. After we toured the Old Jail at St. Petersburg, Daddy had seen enough of Florida. He turned the car around and took us back to Ida Cason Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga.

But, when I did get a chance to “experience” the world outside of home, it was with wide-eyed wonder.

When I was 11 years old, Daddy said I could go off to Camp Grandview north of Montgomery. Mama said I was too young to go that far from home. But what Daddy said, went. I went.

A month before my date of departure, I got a brochure in the mail detailing everything I was to bring – towels, wash cloths, toothpaste, toothbrush, insect repellent – things like that. I was so excited. I read and reread that brochure so many times that the folds were as sharp as a razor blade.

I can still remember the thrill of standing at the top of the 100 steps to the swimming pool and knowing that I was finally there in a big, new world.

And, when I saw the Gulf of Mexico for the first time, it actually took my breath away.

And, years later, when I peeped out of a sleeping bag at sunrise to see the Teton Mountains for the first time, it was such an awesome sight that I couldn’t keep my eyes from filling with tears.

Over the years, there have been many wild raccoon experiences in my life – things as simple as lying in the pasture at night looking at the stars or hearing Aunt Beatie singing as she came around the corner of the house or when Mama plugged in the lights on the Christmas tree for the first time each year. So many wonderful wild raccoon experiences and I cherish each and every one of them.

Now, the words “New Year’s resolutions” are not part of my vocabulary. I’m toting around about 40 extra pounds as testimony to that. So I don’t make resolutions. But if I could have any wish for the New Year 2009, it would be that each of us could experience life as a wild raccoon.

What an awesome year that would be.