A Raccoon Rumspringa Party in My Garden

I went out earlier today to check on my pawpaws and they were gone.

Gone. As in not a trace of a pawpaw anywhere. No half eaten fruit. No seeds delicately spit out by whoever ate them. No tracks. No tell-tale scat. Gone.

I assume the raccoons took them. Those hooligans. How could they have discovered my pawpaws? There were only two pawpaws.

Probably by scent.

Once they found them, they probably had a raccoon rumspringa party and ran off with them.  (Insert terrible bad words here.)

Rumspringa is my new favorite word.  I just heard it the other day. It's an Amish word, describing the period of time when they send teenagers out into the world to experience all that it has to offer before they live out the rest of their lives under the strict rules of the Amish. It's a rite of passage for them and they can choose, once out in the world, not to return to their Amish community.

Apparently, there aren't a lot of rules for rumspringa and some of the Amish teenagers use this time to party, a lot. What's the saying, "There's no party like a rumspringa party?" Actually, I made that saying up. I don't know if there is such a saying.

But now I use the word "rumspringa" rather loosely to describe any party where people, or animals, seem to be letting their hair down and having a good time.

Which is why I think there was some kind of raccoon rumspringa in my garden last night.  Because the pawpaws are gone. I hope whoever ate them enjoyed them.  Otherwise, it wasn't a very good rumspringa.

But why should the Amish and the raccoons have all the fun?

I think some of my friends should go on a retirement rumspringa. They seem a bit afraid to leave the workforce, even though they've saved enough to retire. "What would I do?" "I'd be bored." Honestly, I have not yet met a retired person who was bored. There is so much to do out in the world!

Retirement rumspringa would let these people try out retirement. If they didn't like it, they could return to the workforce. Wouldn't that be nice if employers offered something like a retirement rumspringa for people to see if they might like retirement better than working?

I consider my retirement rumspringa to be permanent. I am not going back to what I did before. Though, with the book, the speaking engagements, the magazine articles... some people would say I'm not as retired as I think I am.

That may be, but there are no rules for "retirement rumspringa". I just made it up. So I get to do it however I want to do it. And I want to do it in a garden with a book.

But apparently I don't get to do it with pawpaws.

Because the raccoons on their own personal rumspringa adventure beat me to them.

Next year. Next year, they won't.


  1. In my experience, raccoons usually win. But I am glad you are enjoying your retirement rumspringa.

  2. I was eligible for retirement when I turned 60. Two months after my birthday I was gone from there! I love being retired!
    Sorry to hear about your pawpaws. The raccoons eat our figs, the squirrels eat our pecans, and the deer eat my flowers - every day is a new wildlife adventure!
    Have a great week!

  3. How disappointing about the pawpaws! Hope you get enough next year that you at least get a taste.

    Retirement rumspringa. It is definitely a party and I'm thoroughly enjoying mine.

  4. Those rotten raccoons. Darn their hides. I hope they don't come back to continue their rumspringa. Happy Rumspringa to you.

  5. rumspringa - what a wonderful term. As a German speaker, I recognized it right off - herumspringen, meaning jumping around.
    So sorry to hear about your pawpaws!
    Luise from Austria

  6. Sad news about the Paw Paws. The raccoons are now smiling though.

  7. Darn those raccoons. Here it is possums, squirrels, and roof rats. But I do love your idea about rumspringa retirement...I agree that being retired is the best and more people should try it!

  8. I'm sorry about your pawpaws. Raccoons are generally the worst offenders, and used to wreak havoc on the fruit in our Italian plum tree, but right now, in my garden, squirrels are enhancing their rumspringa by eating all my olives! Who would have thought they'd enjoy the bitter, raw things? It beats all.

  9. So funny! 60, a few more years until my RETIREMENT RUMSPRINGA!!!! Can you tell I'm a wee bit excited.

  10. Retirement rumspringa. I love it. Absolutely love it. Will you suggest it to my employer's management?

  11. We gardeners are eternal optimists…next year…there's always next year.

    P..S. Loved this post, but feel bad about your pawpaws.

  12. Thanks for the post and for introducing me to an entirely new word and concept, rumspringa. I do enjoy words and finding one that I've never heard or seen before always gives me a lovely jolt of surprise.

  13. Rumspringa is a word from German (means jump around), sounds familiar for me. The problems with racoons I know too, here with us in Germany. My compost box yesterday was looking like after a terrorist attack, sigh!
    Greetings from Germany (randomly found your blog)

  14. I've grown PawPaw trees, only the trees, the fruits have always been taken by some garden hooligan. Good use of the word Rumspringa. You don't get to use that one very often.


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