In learning to read, some five-year-old students are browsing through books of animal pictures. “Look,” one boy exclaims t0 the teacher. “A frickin’ elephant.” The teacher is startled: “What did you just say?” The boy replies, “A frickin’ elephant.” With the teacher looking increasingly uncomfortable, the boy adds, “See. It says so in the book.” The teacher looks, and sure enough, the picture is captioned, “African elephant.”

At least that’s how the story came to me.

This week’s posting will be sparser and less sage than usual. Just as I began working on this posting tonight, my computer’s iPhoto software froze, and for the moment I’m able to get access to only a few of the photos I’ve shot in the last 10 years. However, I always back up what’s on the computer, and I’m hoping that with a Herculainian effort by a techie, I will be able to recover the remaining photos.

Uninvited guests.

If one leaves a door open at night around here, raccoons are bound to wander in for a meal. They love pet food, and they can make a mess — as many West Marin residents have discovered to their chagrin. More than a few times over the years, people have called the Sheriff’s Department frightened that someone was trying to break into their home. When a deputy arrived, however, the intruder not infrequently turned out to be a raccoon on the roof.

A doe rests in the shelter of a coyote bush uphill from Mitchell cabin. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

The deer story that’s making the rounds these days is a recording of a call to a Fargo, N.D., radio station from a woman who wants some deer-crossing signs moved. Whether or not the recording is legitimate, it’s hilarious. Click here to listen.

This winter’s ladybug population is the biggest I’ve ever seen. It’s beneficial to have ladybugs in a yard. The variety around here eat aphids and scale insects. Good-hearted as she is, Lynn has rescued hundreds of ladybugs from inside the cabin during the past month and put them in plants on the deck. Birds don’t eat them because of their taste, but spiders have no hesitation.

A raccoon in prayer.

A raccoon drags the soles of its paws down a window, creating a racket inside the cabin. I think of this as a raccoon’s way of praying, a sort of raccoon hymn performed with the hope that it will call down a few slices of bread from above.