Monday, February 20, 2006


People who don't know better may think that little wild animals such as opossums and raccoons (aka possums & coons) are cute little creatures that meander in the forest, eating nuts and berries and taking little rides on gentle streams in leaves shaped like little boats. We here in the country know they can be destructive, disease-ridden rodents that can cause a helluva lot of trouble once they discover easy food at the home of humans. Like the possums that every once in a while find the cat food on our porch. And once they find an easy life, they dig in. Sometimes literally. I have a friend who once had a coon in the attic of their cabin. They had a heck of a time getting it out, and the damage that thing did was in the thousands of dollars. Destructive. Squirrels can be the same way.

Possums are some of the ugliest creatures I've ever seen. Big narly teeth (for their size)... their heads are mostly their big pointed mouths. I hate thinking that those gross things come up on my front porch and eat cat food out of the same bowl that my 2 cats use. Yuk. Yesterday morning, our dog Barney was making an odd kind of barking noise, so I knew something was up. Surenuff, there was a possum sitting out under one of our apple trees (close to the porch). He had dug up a frozen apple and was munching on it. It was strange to see one out in the daytime, since they are nocturnal, but it does happen. I think this is the one that's been LIVING under our porch. (Gross! Because where they live is where they shit, too.)

So I went to the bedroom and grabbed the shotgun, all loaded and ready. Well, nearly so. I took off the safety and racked one in. I had planned to just walk to the end of the porch, onto the deck and blast it from there... but then I realized that I could very well hit the trunk of my apple tree. So I decided to just go down the steps and approach the thing to get a closer shot. No sooner thought than done.

Usually, I would not go any distance at all with a loaded gun not on safety, but it was colder than heck outside and I was kind of hurrying. Knowing our steps are icy, I was careful. But I forgot what footwear I had on.

Back when Joycie was in middle school, I caved in & let her buy a pair of slip-on, white Nike tennies... during that, oh, 4 days or so when they were really popular. I think she wore them twice. Now, we've been using them to slip on and run outside for various errands and the like. That's what I was wearing.

No traction. I fell and did a gyration that would have done a cartoon proud. Instantly, my thought was Shit! the Safety! The shotgun flew out of my hands and did it's own little ballet down the steps to the cement sidewalk where I lay. Put a huge gouge in one of the wooden steps. But, life ain't no movie or TV show... the gun did not go off. Not even a scratch on it. Me, not so lucky. Big purple bruise on my ass. Bump on the head, elbow, knees...

But that was all discovered later. I jumped up and grabbed the gun. Scared the piss out of myself, that's for sure. When I'm scared, I tend to sometimes get a little angry. I marched over to the possum, who was still munching on the apple. It kind of started to growl at me (did I mention they have ugly teeth??). I drew on it and blasted it in the side of the head.

Possums are notoriously difficult to kill. (Thus the saying, "playing possum.") The dang thing took off running, so I blasted it again. But I only caught it a bit on the side of it's flank. So I chased it over to my rock garden, racking in another round as I ran, and I put the shotgun nearly to the back of it's head. Finally, that's one good possum. Because everybody 'round here knows, the only good possum is a dead possum.

Don't get me wrong, I like possums, coons and squirrels... in the woods where they belong. But not when they try to mooch off me and use my house as their toilet and chew important pieces of my house for their own amusement.

And there's a little vignette of life in the country.

p.s. Yes, I know that these rodents can be destructive in town, too... but ya can't blast 'em with a shotgun there.

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