A light sleeper, I become the Defender of the Castle, flinging off the covers and springing into action during these nighttime ellipses.
Porcupines, lacking any sensible fear, get the broom treatment.
A porcupine is an ideal of passive resistance, doing as I was taught way back during my student activist moment –– when faced with ejection, they hold quite still and hunker down.
After all, who is going to mess with 30 lbs of Erethizon dorsatum? The Latin, btw, meaning "Animal with an irritating back." And front.
P.S. The name "porcupine" descends from the Old French for "thorn pig."
I use the broom to sweep them bodily off the porch to open country while warning them for the love of life and limb do NOT start chewing on the building!
Despite my shouting and rattling of their hiding place, they go back to rustling and loudly chewing –– through anything –– until temptation is removed from their reach.
Raccoons have provided the most trouble, with their clever little hands and insatiable interest in birdseed, in garbage, in coolers left in their reach.
They persist, raccoons, but they do not like to be yelled at. Who does?
So when I heard the surprisingly loud footsteps –– imagine a stomping toddler with heavy calluses –– outside my window, I expected to see a familiar humped furry back moving around the porch.
I threw open the door, and launched into the lecture I have prepared for the raccoons –– it starts "You need to think about the consequences of your actions!" and goes on, angry dadwise, in a crescendo that often includes the phrase, "Is this a good use of your time and energy? Really?" and so on –– when I saw my intruder.
Mr. Linton heard something like: "You need to think a–– It's a f@#ing BEAR!"
Across the scant 20 feet, our gazes locked just long enough for us to share the dawning awareness of our own foolishness.
I could count each of the chestnut hairs around his small, dark eyes.
What the bear saw, well, it's probably a mercy that I don't hear him recounting the adventure to his teenaged buddies.
And then, like cartoon characters, we each skedaddled.
The bear, the size of a Labrador retriever (but bulkier), sprinted for the cover of the junipers.
PS: this was a relatively small bear, probably 150 lbs worth of youngster spending its first summer without Mom's supervision.
Though it resembled a burly dog, its movement was unmistakably bearish –– that flat-footed gait setting its curvaceous badonkabonk a-jiggling.
The previous morning, this fool bear (or one just like it) had been chased out of the back of the neighbors' car, whither it had been tempted by a broken window and a wealth of fast-foot packaging. Like dogs, bears must love having toddlers around.
A bit of research reveals that black bears –– who were alive in the time of dire wolves and sabertooth tigers and American cave lions –– usually take the prudent course of running away to fight another day rather than standing toe-to-toe with aggression.
The strategy probably served them well, because black bears are still roaming while most other megafauna are fossils. Of course polar bears and brown bears also survived the last Ice Age, and they are not shrinking violets, so it's a theory for why black bears tend to run away when you make noise at them.
Not to say that black bear are not dangerous. One or so people are killed in North America each year by wild black bear. If not the cardiac shock of finding one on the porch of a morning.
Most Important Reference: –– How to avoid being attacked by a bear: