Sorry about the lack of recent posting. This is one I started a while back in response to a request. I finished most of it, then left myself the last paragraph to finish (for some reason, I just didn’t feel I could get out that last graf).
I like this whole “taking requests for blog posts” thing.
Today we have a suggestion from Kerry, who asked me to write about possums. Apparently, her husband likes to play Billy the Exterminator. One of his recent catches was a possum. Those marsupial guys are just so darn cute, with their big eyes and big ears … and their little pink bows.
When I did the last request post and Mely had already submitted her request for tea, Kerry suggested that I write about possums. So here we go.
Possums aren’t just cute. They are also very talented at getting into places where they just should not be. A friend of my sister’s tells a story about how she found a baby possum in her air conditioner’s intake. I once knew a guy who would pull over on the side of the road and pick up dead possums to take them home to “study them.” (We don’t talk anymore.)
My possum story is a simple tale of a young woman who goes to take out the trash, but instead finds a deceased mother possum in the bottom of the garbage can. The deceased mother possum, of course, is surrounded by her babies, all of which are trying to feed off of nothing in their attempts to survive.
That young woman? That’s me as a high schooler, taking out the garbage as always. The garbage cans were right outside my room, and I had heard some odd noises outside my window the night before, but there were always raccoons and other troublemakers getting into the garbage. I just hadn’t thought much of it.
After finding the possums — and the incredible stench that accompanied the mother’s death — I went back inside to consult with my mom and sister as to how we should attack this problem.
Me: There’s a dead possum with her babies in the garbage can.
Sister: She said there’s a dead possum outside.
Me: Not just outside. It’s in the garbage can. At the bottom. It’s not moving so I’m pretty sure it’s dead.
Mom: Did you poke it? (snicker.)
Me: (almost in tears) No, Mom, I didn’t poke it.
Thus began the Odyssey of the Dead Possum and Her Babies.
My mom looked up a place where we could take the babies. First we called Animal Care and Control. All they told us was that they couldn’t do anything. They would take the babies and euthanize them; there was no one to take care of them. We called a trapper, and he wanted money to come out and pick up the possums to take them to a refuge.
Then a brilliant idea struck my mom. It was a beautiful collision of inspiration and her brain, like a Mack truck hitting a pianist: she asked the trapper where he would take the baby possums, then resolved that to save money, we would take the baby possums there ourselves.
With my mother in the driver’s seat and my sister positioned next to her, I was stuck in the back seat of our white 1991 Lincoln Town Car with a garbage can full of dead/dying possum sitting next to me. The smell is unparalleled to this day, and I’ve stood on a landfill.
It was 20 minutes of sticking my head out the window, inhaling fresh air, pulling my head back inside the car and holding my breath. By the time we made it to the refuge, I was light-headed and barely able to stand. My mom and sister thought it was great. They laughed the entire way over while I was smothered in possum stink in the back seat.
We left the baby possums with the kind woman in Wellington who apparently totally digs digging baby possums out of their dead mother’s pouch.
She didn’t have a way to dispose of the dead mother, so she left it up to us. The garbage can was no good; once a possum dies in the bottom of your garbage can, you just can’t get that stink out. (I swear the Town Car smelled like it until we got rid of that awful car.)
So we dumped the garbage can/Momma Possum combo on the side of a dirt road, and as we drove away, dust kicking up from the spinning tires as my mom sped away, the vultures were already beginning to congregate.
The circle of life. A wheel of fortune. A dead possum in a garbage can on the side of a dirt road in suburban Lake Worth.
Thus ends the greatest possum story ever told.
(Actually, it ended later when we had to explain to my dad why his garbage can disappeared.)