Before I came to Canada, I had never seen a racoon in my real life. In Japan, where I grew up, racoons are found only in a deep countryside, definitely not in a city. But since I started living in Ottawa, I quickly learned that they are as common animals as crows are in Japan. And just like crows in Japan, racoons are not very welcomed by humans due to their notorious behaviour on the garbage bins.

Despite what people say about them, I personally have quite a bit of affection and admiration for this creature after my three memorable encounters with them within the premise of my house.

It wasn’t until a few years into my life in Ottawa that I finally saw a racoon with my own eyes. One autumn evening, I was standing on the front porch trying to open the door, when I suddenly saw a movement in the direction of our garbage bins. As I turned to see what it was, I came eye to eye with a round face of a baby racoon crouching on the green compost bin next to the porch. For a moment, both of us were motionless with our eyes locked. I couldn’t believe how innocent and sweet this racoon’s gaze was. I felt the surge of affection rise in my body, and I immediately wanted to hug this little round creature in my arms.

But of course, this wasn’t a domestic animal. Soon, the baby racoon jumped off the bin and quickly disappeared into the bush behind the parking lot, leaving me rooted on the porch still mesmerized by the unexpected encounter with this famous animal.

The second time I saw a racoon was just before the arrival of spring. One morning, I was making my breakfast in the kitchen as usual when my eyes caught some large animal moving in the backyard. As I looked out of the window on the backdoor, my breath was taken away. There on the ground still covered with white snow, a large dark brown racoon was crossing the garden slowly and heavily.

The way it carried itself reminded me of a king. Right in front of my eyes, the racoon finished crossing the garden, and the next thing it did surprised me even further. It started to climb the huge maple tree with its heavy body! I always saw many squirrels run up and down the tree, but I had never imagined that this big racoon could also climb. But it did. It slowly and steadily climbed up the tree, and soon, it disappeared from my sight.

My third encounter was in the summer. One morning, I was sitting in my room having my breakfast when I saw something big moving up the maple tree in the backyard. I immediately took a closer look and confirmed that it was a racoon, possibly a child of the one that I had seen before spring.

In front of my curious eyes, the racoon climbed up and up the tree until it came to a big hole on the trunk located at about half the height of the entire tree. As I watched, another young racoon came out of the hole, and the two of them spent some time walking around the hole until finally they both went out of my sight.

I turned back to my breakfast utterly excited. I had just seen two racoons on the tree, was that right? The way the two racoons navigated their heavy bodies on the tree was simply adorable.

I still don’t appreciate it when racoons pull down our garbage bins and create a mess. But they have so successfully grabbed my heart through the three encounters that I can never speak ill of them.