I’m not sure if its due to the fact that it’s gotten cold here pretty quickly in Nashville, or if it’s just the time of year, or all the construction going on in our neighborhood or what, but it’s safe to say there has been a bit of a varmint invasion in our area. My hilarious friends Paige and MK have begun a “ministry for squirrels in need of a fresh start” and have relocated several bushy-tailed friends out of their yards. The cashier in the Home Depot the other day mentioned he’d pulled two racoons out of his attic (shudder). And then this past Sunday, we found a possum in our yard.
We knew that there were possums in the hood….we’d seen two baby ones hiding under the shed in the back yard last year, one up a tree in the alleyway behind the house, and then our friend John had caught one eating my tomatoes one night back when I was trying to grow a garden. But all had been quiet on the o’possum front for a while, so we’d kind of forgotten about it. And then on Sunday morning I was using the leaf blower to clean off our back deck and I saw some commotion in one of the bushes. I assumed it was one of the chickens or Booger the cat, all of whom were roaming around while I fixed up the yard. But then a second later I heard Keith yelling at me to come and see what he’d found and then I saw the unmistakeable skin tail and realized that he’d found an unwanted little creature lurking about.
Possibly the best part of the photo below is that I happened to be wearing a “Possum Town Marathon” t-shirt. Mary-Hall and I are both from Columbus, Mississippi, dubbed “Possum Town” by Native Americans until it earned its current monkier in 1821. There’s even an annual BBQ festival called the “Possum Town Pig Fest.” Believe it or not, I grabbed this t-shirt out of my drawer that morning not knowing I’d come face to face with it’s namesake a few hours later.
What ensued was nothing short of the makings of a great “you might be a redneck if…..” joke. When the little critter refused to scurry out the back gate that Keith had opened, an all out chase began. After about 10 minutes, we were able to corner him until he ran into a cat-carrier that I had snatched out of the shed just in the nick of time. We took a few photos of our friend and then relocated him a few miles down the road to a little-used historic marker with lots of bushes and hiding places.
My friends were totally weird-ed out by this story. “Possums creep me out,” MK texted me followed quickly by Mary-Hall with the exact same text. (seriously.) But not me. I have a bit of a possum affinity stemming back to when I was five years old and we found “Dusty” in our garage one chilly morning. His momma had met with an unfortunate end and this tiny critter was huddled next to the warmth of a large appliance. My mom had a soft spot for animals so we took this little guy in without a second thought. He lived with us for about a month or so until he was big enough to have a good shot at making it on his own in the woods next to our house.
Apparently things haven’t changed much since I was five…..my grown-up response to finding a critter in the backyard is to blog about it. But as a kid I wrote a story about it. The title was brilliant; “About a Possum We Have.” And because my ability to spell did not match my ability to string words together, I dictated the whole thing to my mom who typed it out. (Major mom points for that one. Especially since that was in the pre-computer days and mom did the whole thing on her typewriter.) I flipped through the pages to bring you a few quotes. I’m pretty sure I was smarter at five than I am now.
“All possums have prehensile tails, like our possum’s. Have you seen a monkey hang by its tail? Well, possums can too, That is what “prehensile” means. His tail looks like skin; very little hair is on his tail.” (clearly mom had taken advantage of the situation to help me do a little research on possums and had explained the word “prehensile.”)
“We were also surprised when we looked in a book and found that possums have 50 teeth….” “We were really surprised because at his age he has teeth, and sharp ones too; whereas a human being baby his age would not…..” “Now he is even crunching hard Cat Chow. He eats it like squirrels eat acorns, holding the Cat Chow in his front paws.”
And because I totally couldn’t resist it, here are both photos taken exactly 28 years apart, side by side. Pretty much I still look the same.
So there you have it. Never a dull moment around here. Anyone else have critters lurking in your yards?