I walked out to open our front gate, taking in the fresh morning air and reveling in the morning sun that would soon disappear in favor of oceans of cascading rain in the afternoon. As I walked I became aware of something shadowing me—something with a black tipped tail, which was locked upright as it walked.
I smiled to myself, happy in the knowledge that our old cat, who has survived multiple moves including our last, final migration to Costa Rica, was keeping me company. Our cat, or as he is known–Mr. Kitty, has taken a very different path than I in our advanced years as he is now quite outgoing, friendly. We do, however, continue to share a mutual loathing of being picked-up as it is unseemly for those our age and, in my case, impossible.
It was only as I turned back from the gate that I noticed my companion was not Señor Gato but was instead one of the coatis we had nurtured a few months back. Coatis, which around here are typically called pizotes, also walk with their tails held high, upright.
I stopped, as did the pizote. Standing just a few feet apart, we each tried to figure out if the other was who we remembered them to be. This pizote was definitely a bigger, stronger version of those in the pack that had called our porch their home for a month. He did, however, have that same, pleading look in his eye. The look that said I clearly had eaten more than my fair share, and should perhaps go back inside and scare up a banana for him and his friends.
We locked eyes for a few more moments, then I said, “Hello.” The pizote sniffed the air, interpreted my greeting as confirmation that there would be no bananas, and then walked off into the woods.
Several times over the weeks that followed I found this pizote, or one of his brothers or sisters, staring at me from a perch on a nearby limb as I worked what we hope will one day be our tree house. I have a sneaking suspicion that the pizotes believe this new treehouse is for them, but I’ll leave it to Things #1 and #2 to determine the living arrangements.
It is still unclear to me why our smelly dog, Wilson, is allowed to sleep on Thing #2’s bed. I am equally puzzled as to why Mr. Kitty is allowed to walk around on the kitchen counters or why our newest addition, Garfield, is tolerated in the house even though he sharpens his claws on anything that does not run away.
I do know that I am glad to be surrounded by animals, particularly those on the wild side of the equation. There is always something to bring you down. There is always fear and danger in the world, but there is something very comforting about talking to an animal, particularly a wild one. As long as you don’t actually think that the animal is talking back, all is well.