Die, Possum, Die!

Possum playing dead.

I thought seeing road-kill squirrel was bad enough, only to have it turn up mysteriously under the family grill on the back patio.

On a recent Friday, it got even worse. I was approaching the driveway and was about three houses up I noticed that someone had run down a possum.

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A little side note here. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary – an excellent resource, by the way – describes a possum (actually, spelled “opossum”) as:

1 : any of a family (Didelphidae) of American marsupials that usually have a pointed snout and prehensile tail ; especially : a common omnivorous largely nocturnal mammal (Didelphis virginiana) of North America that has grayish to blackish fur with white on the cheeks and is an expert climber
2 : any of several Australian phalangers

It then defines a “plalanger” as:

“… any of various small to medium-sized marsupial mammals (family Phalangeridae) of the Australian region that are chiefly arboreal and nocturnal and usually densely furred …”

I guess you could hurl an insult at someone by calling them a “phalanger.” That should certainly cause some confusion.

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Getting back to the story, the worst part about the possum wasn’t that it had been run over. The worst part was that it was STILL ALIVE!

As I approached it, the possum lifted its head and looked me straight in the eye. Isn’t there a rule about making eye contact with wild animals, especially ones that have been hit by a car?

Oh jeez – now what the hell was I supposed to do? I went into the house and thought about my situation. It wasn’t really a dilemma, because I wanted the possum to die.

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By the way, a dilemma is a situation in which all of the outcomes are undesirable. So you don’t have a dilemma if the choice is being given a car or being given a cat, unless you can’t afford the car and you’re allergic to the cat – at the same time.

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Let’s review my choices:

1) Find my hand gun and go out and shoot it. Downside: Neighbors would call the police, and I would have a criminal record.

2) Get back into the car and run it over properly. Downside: I wasn’t looking forward to hearing my car tires crush its skull. Worse yet, the damn thing probably would make eye contact again.

3) Get some type of blunt instrument and bludgeon it. Downside: I’d have to relive my “thug” days.

4) Get a baseball bat and beat it to death. Downside: See No. 3. Also, I didn’t want to be covered with possum juice.

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When we were working in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., this story crossed the news desk:

A family was holding its annual reunion/picnic. A raccoon ran into the house, and one of the family members grabbed a golf club and beat it to death in front of about 10 or 12 people, who were spattered by raccoon blood. The raccoon later tested positive for rabies, and everyone in the house had to get rabies shots.

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With this story cooking in my brain, I continued to give this some more careful thought. Thankfully (and I really mean it), the damned thing died before I decided how I would euthanize it.

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Monday: The possum was still in the street. The sun was now out, and the smell was simply horrible.

Tuesday: Still there, although I think it had been been run over several times. I hope some of those crows that I saw in the neighborhood the week before fly in and carry it away.

Wednesday: Finally, it was raining, so the smell had dissipated. Now it was a pile of wet gray fur. I was thinking I should have found the snow shovel and removed it.

Thursday: Still there. It was now a smear of “gray something” on the asphalt. Why – oh why – won’t the neighbors remove the carcass? That’s what it was at this point. Trash day was just around the corner, so I hope that those guys would clean it up. I’m sure they will – I’m sure they won’t.


That Time of Year

frostyleaves_625Fall is such a bittersweet time of year.

It’s a time of year when the trees burst into glorious color. But it’s also when the days grow shorter and the nights seem to grown longer. Those after-work strolls up the streets in sandals and shorts are just a memory now.

It’s dark when I get home now. Heck, it’s dark when I leave work.

I’ve tried to hold off on searching for the heavy winter coat. I don’t want it to be winter yet, although the truth is that winter is nearly upon us.

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There are still some remnants left from fall. The leaves in the gutter. The tree up the street with brilliant red maple leaves … still on the branches. The sun still brings warmth, although it’s often pushed behind fast-moving clouds and a cold wind.

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Later this month, we’ll take a train to New Jersey. I was going to say that it’s been a long time since I was back in New Jersey, but then I remember we were there in late May — or was it early June? New Jersey is pleasant in the fall, but it’s not nearly as colorful as Western Pennsylvania. Maybe it’s because most of the trees in New Jersey have been cut down.

That’s not entirely true, of course, but it sometimes seems that way.

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For some reason, I don’t have many memories of fall when growing up. Maybe it’s because we were always in school. I have a lot of memories of school. Walking to school. Being in school. Walking from school. Or maybe my memory is simply going.