Photo by Zdenek Machacek on Unsplash


By Charles Towne           

The matriarch of our clan, my dear mama, said to me, ”As far as I know there has never been anybody in the family that was certifiable, but every one of us has brought eccentricity to a very fine degree of perfection.”

I don’t know if I’m ready for the funny farm, or just extremely dedicated? Perhaps equal parts of both. I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Here I sit in a tiny camera blind, knee deep in water, in the middle of a creek, in the center of a dense Florida swamp. (Yeah. Now you’re beginning to get the picture. But let me continue.) Most of the cute little lady mosquitoes are doing whatever it is that lady mosquitoes do on a chilly day in the sunshine state. I imagine they are sleeping, perhaps dreaming of the delicious blood they are going to extract from yours truly, once the weather warms up again.

It is cold and damp as a wet clam, as well as overcast, with a depressing gray cloud-layer that bodes no good for man or beast.  On top of all that cheer, it has been raining – a chilly drizzle – Florida’s excuse for snow.

Ensconced as I am in the blind, I sit on an upturned five-gallon bucket, which will, after a few hours due to the fact that I forgot my wimp cushion, begin to feel like a combination of a chunk of ice and a handful of rusty railroad spikes.

Crazy or dedicated?

The only thing that I have seen in the last hour is a retarded raccoon taking an early morning stroll. The water gently laps against the sides of the plywood blind, and as my nose runs copiously and soaks my mustache, a bitter-cold wind is blowing down my neck.   Ah, what a day! What a life! The raccoon shivers, wipes his nose with one paw and, glancing in my direction, shakes his head as he decides to call it quits, hastily retiring to a hole in an old cypress tree that houses his nice warm den.  And I called him retarded?! I swear that I can see smoke coming from a hole further up in the raccoon’s tree; could he actually have a little wood-burning stove in there? And suddenly my imaginer goes into its red zone.

Now, I want you to understand that this is the danger area in all imaginations; the forbidden zone, the outer limits, the “DANGER, THIN ICE” region, where even the most adventurous angels fear to tread… but… oops! It’s too late.

At the thought of the little stove heating up that nice warm den tree, I can see the raccoon removing his cute little overshoes and his scarf as Mrs. Raccoon calls him to dinner.

There they are, Mr. Raccoon and his wife, and the little raccoon’s, Bosh, Huck, Apple-Blossom, Teddy and Pinky Doodle. There they are, the entire little raccoon family sitting down to a delicious meal of fried crawdad tails, hot bread made of the finest acorn flour, and blackberry pie! The bread is all slathered real thick with blackberry preserves, and all of this is washed down with great mugs of hot chocolate swimming with lots and lots of marshmallow topping.

I begin to wonder: is there enough room for me in the raccoon’s snug den? And will they share their meal with me? My gaze lingers on the rising imagined smoke… maybe…?

Suddenly the chill wind blowing down my neck brings me back to reality. The wind is picking up and the palm fronds are making a terrible racket with their dry rattling. Any dyed-in-the-wool naturalist knows the futility of attempting to photograph wildlife while the wind is blowing; animals simply don’t like to move as the noise of the wind could conceal the approach of a predator. But here I sit, in a chilly plywood blind, in the middle of a creek, in the center of a swamp, hoping that I don’t catch a terminal case of pneumonia.

Yesiree… I bet Mr. raccoon and his family are all nice and warm, sitting around their little wood-burning stove, telling stories and drinking those huge mugs of hot chocolate, while I sit here with this darned cold draft blowing down my neck! (Yeah. Perhaps you’re right. I don’t have the good sense the good Lord gave a goofy gopher.)

Dear Papa God, please protect us from ourselves, and at the same time allow us to dream of wonderful things as we take jaunts into “the wild side”.  Lead us and guide us, and help us to be what you want us to be. I thank you for giving me a mother that introduced me to Imagiland – that strange place populated with wonders of which dreams are made.  Amen

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. You discovered the answer to an ongoing mystery! Of course those raccoons didn’t have a wood burning stove but I just bet the Kebler elves DID! And everybody knows that raccoons and elves love to hang!
    Otherwise you are admitting you aren’t bright enough to get out of the rain!!!

    • Doc, WOW! Sometimes it is sooo good to dance in the rain, especially with good friends! Keep looking up , and many blessings on you and yours, Chaz

  2. Richard, when I was a boy I could hardly wait for Sunday so we would be able to get the funny paper. Of all the cartoons my favorite was THE TEENY WEENIES! These were little people the size of a mans thumb that lived in the woods. I knew they were there because I built little shelters for them and if I built houses for them that must mean they were there, right? I mean, that is just logical, right? You take care and all sorts of blessings on you, Chaz P.S. And they were my friends, so there!

    • Ah my friend, a good laugh is a marvelous way to start the day! I remember my own sweet mother, when she had enough of 3 young boys for a while would send us outside to play….. But momma, it’s raining!…practice running between the drops so you don’t get wet! And the funny part was we would run around in the yard, actually trying to do what we were told! That was our version of dancing in the rain!

      • Richard, and I can remember my own sweet mama admonishing us with the words, “and don’t you dare get struck by lightning!” And do you know what? We obeyed her. Chaz

    • NH, yes, when I was about knee high to a short snake i was bit by an imagibug. I have been walking around with a goofy grin on my mug ever since. God bless you dear one, Chaz

  3. Well, I don’t know about the rest
    of the folks, but I am definitely ready for a big mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. That raccoon family has got it going on!! After I get my hot chocolate, lean back in the recliner and get comfy, I’ll be ready to enjoy more of your stories!!
    Thanks for the vivid mental pictures. I love them, especially on a rainy day like today!!

  4. Dear Sir Mike, you bless me with your words of approbation and praise. If my feeble gift touches one person in a positive way I am blessed mutely, After all; the word tells us that all good things come from Papa God. Isn’t He good? Bless you and your lovely wife my friend, Chaz

  5. True Story: my oldest daughter has a second story deck that has lots of bird feeders, always full of seeds. The local raccoons continually raid the seeds at night. One night she heard a noise, and when she checked….yep, a mother raccoon with 3 young ones! She opened the door, yelled as loud as she could and stomped her feet a number of times. Mother raccoon and two babies took off, down the stairs to ground level. One raccoon baby was looking at my daughter and started to cry! She said it really put up a loud cry but was too afraid to move. She was finally able to nudge the baby toward the stairs and the baby ran down to Mother mother raccoon. My daughter said she really felt sorry for the baby raccoon, and said it surprised her that the baby could cry like that.

  6. Don, if we could always see through the eyes of compassion it would surprise us mightily at the emotions of animals! This is the heart of compassion that most humans have lost today. Your daughter was displaying the heart of our Lord that day. Blessings on you all, Chaz

  7. While driving down a tree-lined wooded area on my way to work, I was often confronted by racoons that had been hit by cars. It was so sad to see them. There they were, lying still on the road, life gone. I actually imagined a racoon revolt on humanity and a trial of humans who hit the poor helpless creatures. There would be a Racoon Judge, with the robe and everything expected in a regular courtroom. All humans were summoned to appear in court. In my imagination, the conclusion of the trail was, humans guilty. The solution was that humans were to create the “Racoon Walkway”. This would be a bridge that the racoons could walk on to avoid the racing cars on the road and preserve their lives. I imagined a lovely bridge over the road and racoons happily crossing it in peace. What an imagination!

    • My dear Mignon, you are too right; What an imagination! What you have described is Heaven, where there will be no mor pain or death and all creatures will live in a garden of peace, joy and harmony. How beautiful! May or loving Pap God bless you and yours. Chaz

  8. Dear Mignon, the imagination is a true gift from God. Without it, the imagination, we would not be able to see any of the glory the father has in store for us. As Jimmy and I visited today I realized just a bit of what the Father has in store for us. What a joy. I love you both. Keep looking up my friends, Chaz

  9. Great imagery!
    I suppose you could shapeshift to the size of a raccoon, climb the tree, tap on the entry and be invited inside . . . just imagine the conversation you could have sitting in front of that cozy fire and sipping hot chocolate. You could compare political perspectives, discuss the purpose of existence, or just tells some good jokes 🙂

  10. Great imagery!
    I suppose you could shape shift to the size of a raccoon, climb the tree, tap on the entry and be invited inside . . . just imagine the conversation you could have sitting in front of that cozy fire and sipping hot chocolate. You could compare political perspectives, discuss the purpose of existence, or just tells some good jokes 🙂


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