At certain times of the year, extra little neon colored "step-in" signs appear at the corner as if to say, "We're supplementing the signs because we've really got a LOT of coons this week!"
So yesterday on my way to buy dog food at Greco's, I was daydreaming and missed the turn for Airline Highway that would have led me through Baton Rouge's "normal" moderately dicey areas. I then had to exit the Interstate at N. 22nd Street and wander around for a few minutes in a part of town where perky little blue Bernard the Mini was wildly out of place among the Buicks with massive rims.
In about a half mile stretch, I passed two... that's TWO.... men selling raccoons from ice chests in the backs of their pickup trucks. Now I'm all fine with buying shrimp from ice chests on the side of the road, in fact that's where you'll probably find the freshest shrimp. Strawberries, satsumas, sweet potatoes and Tyler roses are all pretty standard side of the road fare. But raccoons?!
Are we on the cutting edge of something here in Louisiana, or is everyone across America being besieged by raccoon sellers? Have coon purveyors set up umbrellas at Fisherman's Wharf? Are they muscling in on the hot dog and pretzel sellers in Manhattan? Will I find coon for sale on Rt 11 in Lexington?
For the curious among us, this begs many questions. How are these raccoons caught? From my memories of Where the Red Fern Grows, it takes an awfully long time to track down one single raccoon. Are there so many raccoons in our area that you can catch enough to keep up with the demand? Or are they "farmed"? How exactly do you cook a raccoon? Are they frozen or fresh in those ice chests? Whole or in pieces? How much do they cost? If they're dirt cheap then can somebody make enough money selling raccoon meat to make it worthwhile?
I really, really, really wanted to pull over and see what exactly was inside of the ice chests (do they really leave a paw on to verify that it isn't a cat?), but I'll wait until I'm driving the truck and look a little more like I might just possibly buy one.