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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

Even in the heart of the city, the wild things come out at night

Warmer days have arrived in the Carolinas. But WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his "On My Mind "commentary, is more interested in warmer nights — and the creatures that come out then.

The evenings around here are finally warm, which means we are getting a full run of night critters.

I can tell because our cat starts going a little nuts after 11. He goes to the front door and knocks the blinds out of the way so he can see through the windows.

We used to have a stray cat that slept on our porch furniture at night. Our old neighbors adopted that one, but we know of at least two others who roam the yards in the moonlight. My wife and I saw them get in a catfight one night. They started scrapping across the street then came tearing straight for us before they veered off at the last second. It would be an embarrassing way to die: trampled by 25 pounds of angry cats.

But the cats, there’s just a few. The raccoons and possums are everywhere. We find their pawprints on our back gate. We see them skulk down our street before they dive into a storm drain. One night my wife and I got home late from a movie and parked on the street, facing a house on the corner. The house has a little screened porch. We sat in the car and talked for a while, and after a few minutes we saw a raccoon come up to the house, climb the steps, reach up, open the screen door and step inside. It was like he lived there. Maybe he had sublet the porch.

We live close enough to uptown that we can see the Bank of America tower from our yard. But there’s still a small patch of woods a couple blocks from our house. We’ve learned that it doesn’t take much space for the wild to thrive.

One night, coming home, I braked for what I thought was a skinny dog lingering in the middle of the road. As I got close I saw it was a coyote. We’ve had foxes, too.

A few years ago, when we had our great old dog Fred, I took him out one night about midnight to pee. He was doing his business when we heard a noise from the house across the side street. We looked up at the same time to see a deer chewing grass in the neighbors’ yard. We were three blocks from Central Avenue. We could hear the late-night traffic and the basslines thumping from the bars. But here, right in front of us, was a buck — something that hunters go off deep into the countryside looking for.

Fred had never seen a deer, and he was too old at that point to even chase a squirrel. But he stood at full attention. The deer watched us carefully for a little bit. Then it stepped out into the street and trotted away, its hooves clicking on the asphalt.

Even in the city, the night can reveal a different world.

Tommy Tomlinson’s "On My Mind" column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org.It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.