Week marred by pageant miscue, critter mischief

Week marred by pageant miscue, critter mischief

By Rita Howell

First things first: Peggy Walker is taking a break today and will return next week.
Now, full disclosure: When we published a news story on our front page Tuesday announcing that Charley Ann Nix is in Vicksburg this week competing in the Miss Mississippi pageant, we were unaware that Panola has a second lovely lady there: Emily Cockrell of Como. Our apologies to Emily and her family and admirers. Please see photos and story next door.
Now, the rant: Where are the coondogs when I need them?
Remember when we had more than 1,000 of them in town back in February for the UKC Winter Classic coon hunt?
One reason the UKC likes to bring its premier event here is because, well, we’ve got a lot of raccoons. But I have this theory that word is out among the coon community that the hounds won’t be back for another eight months, and they’ve ventured outside of their territory and started trespassing.
At Miss Annie-Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast on Eureka Street, a big fat one keeps helping himself to the catfood on the back porch.
Same thing is happening at my house out in the country. Not one but two show up on the back porch at dark to eat whatever the dogs have not. I’ve caught them several times and run them off, and finally I got smart and took up the food bowl at night.
Apparently, though, it’s not just the food they’re after. They seem to be bored and looking for entertainment.
Every morning now I go around to check my flower pots to be sure that the coons haven’t disturbed them.
Numerous times I have discovered a container overturned, dirt spilled out, plant uprooted and left behind.
This morning it was my prized miniature hosta, a cute little plant given to me by Carol Bullard at the Garden Club booth at the opening day of the  Square Market. It was on my front porch, right next to a larger coleus plant which the coon also uprooted.
In the past few weeks the animal has overturned my pink Wave petunias. Twice. It also wreaked havoc with a begonia.
I don’t know what it’s looking for. I think it’s just getting into mischief.
I’ve lived in that house for nearly 25 years and it’s only been this spring that the coon has started messing with my stuff.
It is not a coincidence that the coon’s recently become brash. His boldness comes as our dog population has declined. Through attrition and accidents, we are down to one dog, Peyton, who doesn’t even bother to bark at the coons. His policy is apparently “live and let live.”
As long we had a minimum of four dogs lying around at night, we never had a coon problem.
But at least my problems are confined to the outdoors.
My friend Susan Wingert had her own raccoon fracus last week and lived to tell the tale.
She’d retired early and was snug in her bed when she kept hearing something in the attic. Suddenly there was a crash in the ceiling above her and, to her terror, something fell down into her bedroom.
The furry bandit ran around, knocked things over, climbed and shredded curtains, and generally freaked out. As did Susan.
She tried valiantly to conduct the critter out, but he wasn’t interested in following her directions.
Enter Batesville’s finest.
Yes, she called the police, and boy, did they respond. Must have been a slow night for crime. Five officers ended up helping rid her of the pest.
It took two hours.
They finally had the coon cornered at the back of the house, and eventually escorted it out through an open window, issuing a restraining order that the rascal stay away from Susan’s house, with a harsh threat to charge him with breaking and entering, vandalism and disturbing the peace if he ever came back.

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