Exchanging glances in the night with a stranger sure sounds potentially romantic.

But when that stranger is a furry bandit who has nefarious plans in mind, the reality is more “Night of the Living Dead” than “Enchanted.”

Then again, didn’t Giselle encounter enormous New York rats along with plenty of perky doves?

Despite being located in an established residential neighborhood well within the city limits, our new locale is surrounded by an abundance of foliage. Our backyard abuts a city park that is extremely quiet after dark, while our front yard lies across the street from a wooded area adjacent to a golf course.

Ina Garten couldn’t write a more perfect recipe for unexpected wildlife visits, even if aided by frequent sips of her giant Cosmopolitan.

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“Oh, yah, you’ll see lots of animals around here,” warned an observant, early-rising neighbor of German descent.

“I’ve seen foxes and a three-legged deer traipsing through here many a time.”

Being more of a night owl than a lark, it shouldn’t have been surprising that my own critter contacts would occur after nightfall rather than at dawn.

Around 10:30 p.m. in the frigid winter, I opted to cart a bucket of kitchen scraps to the compost bin outside our lower level back door. Scooting downstairs in my slippers and robe, I slipped out the door … just in time to startle an opossum rooting among the frosty carrot and potato peelings it had scattered on the ground after knocking off the bin’s lid.

My shocked scream sent the creature waddling into the darkness while a stiff breeze simultaneously slammed shut the basement door. I was left standing in the cold, locked away from light and warmth, but relieved to find my cellphone in a pocket so I could call my spouse to “LET ME IN!!”

An appealing array of birds chickadees, cardinals, goldfinches and woodpeckers — arrived with the spring. Soon my husband had hung feeders from our deck railing, delighting not only our feathered friends but plenty of persistent squirrels.

Forgetting to heed the months-old advice of our neighbor, we were watching a suspenseful Netflix show after enjoying a dinner of grilled salmon, leaving the grill uncovered while it cooled.

A clatter stirred us from our couch potato perches, and we ran to the door in time to spot a sizeable raccoon who had overturned a garbage can containing bird seed. He briskly scurried down the 12-deck steps to the grass, leaving a trail of scattered seed in his wake.

We shook our heads, covered the grill securely, moved the seed stock to the garage and tried to settle down once more before the TV.

On a leisurely walk at dusk last week, accompanied by our college son newly returned for the summer, we noticed what we thought was a cat crossing the street less than 50 feet before us.

But … that arched back … that ringed tail … that was no cat! Another — or maybe the same — industrious mask-faced raccoon was on the prowl.

Twisting his short neck towards us, the raccoon wasted no time in plotting an escape as we hastened our steps. In seconds he flattened his form and scuttled through the curbside sewer slot, a space no more than five inches high.


Earl the Raccoon, as we dubbed him, is blithely wending his way through the sewer system, emerging at will to seek bird seed and salmon skin wherever he senses sustenance.

With images of Stephen King’s clown Pennywise from “It” in mind, I now intend to stick to the sidewalk — and might reconsider my habits after dark.

Check out Time for Moore, Jane Turpin Moore’s blog, at https://timeformoore566445504.wordpress.com.