Possum Stew

Is it dead? Is it washable?
I entered today thinking I would have nothing to write about. It’s not like my life is all that exciting. On my list of things to do today were: Grocery shop, knit with my knitter friends Laura and Elise, do laundry, write an article about Mother’s Day breakfasts, pick up my daughter from wind ensemble rehearsal, and deal with a broken down truck. Not exactly blazing blog fodder.

And then my dog came through for me. 

Grace, the wimpiest dog on the planet, scored big this morning by killing another opossum in our back yard. This is her fourth here. She’s afraid of her own shadow, scared to death of rainy days, and squeals and jumps when you close a bathroom door too firmly. But she can kill a possum fast and clean. One bite to the throat and she’s done, and ready to come in for her dog biscuit and a nap.

Our small back yard in Lexington isn’t prime hunting grounds for Grace. Four possums in almost four years isn’t really all that much. Nothing compared to our Sparta, New Jersey, back yard, which was routinely infested with not only possums, but also groundhogs, skunks, deer, wild turkeys, vultures, rabbits, and an occasional black bear. Grace tried to attack them all with varying success.  Possums and groundhogs are fat and slow, so she got them every time. It got to be where if I noticed she wanted to go outside with more than the normal cheerfulness, I’d grab the shovel and go out with her. Sure enough, there’s be some roadkill in the back yard. 

We lived in the woods so it was easy enough to get rid of the critters. I’d just put them in the woods and chalk one up for the circle of life.

My sister Pam and her husband, John, were visiting once when a dead possum appeared out back. John asked me if I was going to save it for my husband to take care of when he got home from work.

“No, I’m gonna take care of it myself, just like I always do,” I said, sighing like a shameless martyr. He waited a few seconds for me to change my mind and then said, “Oh, OK, I’ll get it.”

My son and daughter went with him to advise him, show him where the shovel was and point out the best spot to dispose of a body.  I watched from the kitchen window as they headed across the yard, John holding the possum-laden shovel out in front of him, the kids running alongside, John stopping where the kids pointed, John heaving the shovel, the possum flying high into the air, the possum hitting a tree branch, John ducking, the kids howling with laughter, the possum bouncing back down near John’s feet. Rinse and repeat.

“We are trailer trash,” I muttered to myself, imagining John’s answer when someone back in Shaker Heights asked what he did on his visit to his sister-in-law.

Here in Lexington, we don’t have woods to throw dead bodies in. Even the vacant lot behind us now contains a 3/4-built house and it would be just plain wrong of me to put a dead animal in the last undeveloped corner, which still contains a pile of dirt, broken bricks, McDonald’s wrappers, and pieces of insulation. Just plain wrong.

So today I had to bag it. Literally. I scooped the poor little thing into a garbage bag, tied it shut, put that into another garbage bag, tied it, placed that into a third bag, tied it and put it into our garbage can. 

It’s tough being trailer trash when you live in the city.