It started with the tail. Walking towards my back yard, I saw an object that pushed my ‘Curiosity’ app. Hmmm…looks like a snake. Or a big worm. Naaaa….it’s a tail. I then looked around to confirm my suspicions: my cat had killed a baby possum. I knew it was not the dogs because they had been inside for a while. Plus, when they went bounding out, they circled the poor critter and backed away. Now….I am told that when possums are in that ‘fake dead’ posture, it is because they are so stressed that they go into a kind of shock. Much like when humans faint. Possums are limp, their tongues hang out, and their respirations slow. If you thought they were unglamorous before, they are truly ugly when dying. Or pretending to die. Or whatever.
Well, I disposed of the distressed critter in the Shirley Brothers Funeral Dumpster, tail and all. Later on I wondered if the thing was actually dead. I have a soft spot for the animal kingdom and didn’t want to assume death if this was just a really good faker. I’ve met some men before that appeared to be….oh never mind. So, I got my flashlight, fished out the ‘bag o’ possum’ and made my necropsy notes: this sucker had gone to Possum Paradise.
Now you may assume that my thinking is pretty skewed to be posting a blog about a deceased opossum. Or that life on the ole’ homestead is pretty slow. You are correct on both counts. But the possum is the only animal in the United States and Canada that is like a kangaroo; it is a marsupial. The female gives birth to about twenty babies, the size of honeybees, and they are carried in the mother’s pouch. Only about half survive. Okay…less than that if they meet my cat. These waddling, kinda creepy looking, nocturnal omnivores are amazing tree climbers due to their long claws. Their hairless tail is extremely strong and can support the whole animal from a branch. Are you still reading? Or did I lose you after I found the tail?
Possums have a special place in my family’s oral history. When I was pretending to be asleep, usually because I did not want to go to school, my mom would admonish me to”Stop playing possum!” She had learned this from her mother, who sternly called out children for feigning death to get out of a chore or directive. When my youngest son was riding in the car with me, he peered out his window at a dead possum. With all of the innocence of a little kid, he asked, “Mom…have you ever seen one of those alive?”He had a point: most possums that are seen are dead. Really dead. Roadkill buffet. Unless you are from Virginia and such….folks down that way hunt them and cook ’em up and eat ’em. Ewww.
Well, I know your life is pretty exciting, glamorous, and fulfilling. But I do appreciate your stooping to my level and reading about the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: The Opossum Edition. ‘Betcha the Kardashians or the ‘Real Housewives of Muncie’ are jealous of my ongoing journeys of adventure and discovery.
This is life in Possum Holler Hood. And I’m not playing.