ast night I was out back, sitting in the hot tub. It was dark. Cloudy skies. Not much light except for the one in the tub. I'm relaxing and thinking. The noise of the whirling water drowning out most sounds. I'm in a zone when I look up to see the faint image of an animal’s face approaching the edge of the hot tub—its nose almost touching the wooden deck. It moved closer as if wanting to sniff the water.
In the darkness, I thought it was our cat and I wondered how it got out of the house, but as it moved closer, looking as if it might jump into the water, might jump at me, I realized the face was far too large, too wide—the body too big. It wasn’t our cat, it was a racoon. At least I thought it was a racoon.
Not wanting to learn more, I swung my arm through the water. A wave rose up and drenched the deck. When the water settled I looked around and couldn’t find the creature. Maybe my eyes were playing tricks. Maybe it was a ghost racoon—its image was, after all, faint. I must have imagined it.
I moved to the edge of the deck to investigate. Where the water hit, the light brown of the wood was dark. I had drenched much of the deck, but not all of it. There was a patch that was dry. A patch near the middle. A patch about the size of a racoon. I wasn’t seeing things.
I took this photo early one morning in the backyard.