June 27th, 2008 - Minnesota Monkeys

It was one of those hot, wet, buggy June nights that seem to inevitably turn into a thunderstorm. There was still a little bit of light left in the night sky, our house was a veritable sauna, and the only creature enjoying things was the turtle so me and Hap decided to strap on the flash and venture upstream. I really had it in the back of my head to get down to Lake Hiawatha bridge right at sundown, because if it's a clear night the view from the bridge rarely disappoints. So we took the "wild side" of the creek, the one with no bike or ped paths, just a self-guided trail along the creekside which was becoming overgrown with reed-canary grass and puddling up some nice mosquito breeding sites. I could see a giant mosquito rave was beginning in earnest and of course Happy insisted on sniffing every tree, so I steered things along towards the pump house and a break for daylight. As it were.
As we were galumphing by one of the taller trees in that area I noticed a ruckus overhead, with shadows jumping and much clawing and shinnying.
I immediately thought "squirrel" and looked up to see a single, very young raccoon (Procyon lotor) staring at me in a non-plussed manner, attached to the tree like Koala bear.

I took a few shots of him that all looked exactly the same, Happy seemed not to notice. As I was turning to move on, I sensed more eyeballs and saw what was either a two-headed raccoon that had evolved to see around both sides of the tree at the same time, or two raccoons peering at me questioningly.

After snapping a few pics of them, swatting a few more bugs, itching a few more bites and giving Hap a treat for being so patient (he knows when he's been patient, right after I take the camera down from my eye, whether he's been lazing in the grass or yanking my arm off and making it impossible to take a shot) I again turned to go and noticed the two raccoons had become three raccoons.
A few more shots, check the flash batteries, itch, swat, itch, no treat this time, and fully expecting to see NINE raccoons, figuring they were multiplying exponentially, I looked up to see....
Nothing. Procyon lotor (which incidentally means "the washer" in Latin) had vanished, shape-shifted, or divided by zero.

We did make it down to the bridge just in time for the sunset, and we were not disappointed. Here's one shot with a little fill-flash for color.

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