It's not there anymore! Whether it was just resting or injured, it's moved itself somewhere else and I don't have to wait around for animal control this morning.
I've finished watering the plants. When the water finishes soaking in, my first round of self-defense will be cayenne pepper. I'm going to buy lots of new flowers for the garden this week - yes, even though the first breath of fall cool has arrived. Marigolds and chrysanthemums will tide over to winter nicely. The deck looks pretty bad between my neglect and the raccoon damage, so it's time to try to defend some territory.
Many fantasy novels and games involving magic involve magicians of various sorts invoking wards of protection. Usually there's a ceremony involved. The wards usually wear off after a certain period of time, and then someone - usually the person who put them up in the first place - has to reinforce them by performing another ceremony. The image I had in my head when these rituals were performed were of pentagram-drawing, or gestures which yield sparkles or light which linger in the air like the after-image of a sparkler on the eye. The only element of the physical world I'd associated wards of protection with were texts describing alchemic formulae.
Today though, I made my own wards of protection, and they weren't at all how I always imagined them. I ritually splashed a third of a liter of ammonia on the part of the roof nearest that where the raccoons climb over. I sprinkled a dusting of blood-red cayenne pepper powder over my flower beds and on the most vulnerable portions of the railing. And then I left the equipment just inside the door to the deck so that I can renew my wards again in the near future, when they've worn thin.
In a different way, C. maintains wards around our property too. He maintains the firewall which keeps our machines and our data secure from outside influence, a process which involves ongoing maintenance and the rare bit of tweaking. His ward doesn't need to be renewed, but it does require maintenance.
There were no sparkles or pentagrams, but my home is now a safer place.