Thursday, January 01, 2009

Because It's Worth a Mention

When I was a kid, we had outside cats and got possums (opossums?) in the garage each winter. You know, warm place to hang out, free source of food, who wouldn't love it? Dad would realize they were there, capture them in a metal garbage can, load the can into the car and drive them up the hill and drop them off in the woods. It was such a common occurrence that it never seemed odd to me.

Right before Christmas, when we had company and were doing lots of cooking and our trash pick-up was delayed, we realized we had something living in our garage. Jeff saw that a garbage bag had been ripped open, so he checked the garage, found nothing and rebagged the trash. Same thing the next day (that new chicken recipe is pretty good, I can't blame the critter for going after the remains twice) and we realized that perhaps the something was still there somewhere. Fast forward a few days to the morning I backed out of the garage only to find I'd rolled over sidewalk chalk. I wondered how it got there, between the rear tires and the garage door, until I got out to clean it up and saw some random excrement laying on the floor. I cleaned it up, came inside and reported the incident to Jeff.

He was out there later in the day and remarked about how he saw the poop, too. Uh, no you didn't because I cleaned it up already. Um, well, then there was more than one pile which means, hello! You have company in your garage. Luckily it was a really nice day here, so Jeff had both cars out of the garage to clean it out and we decided to start figuring out where this something was living. As soon as he shined his flashlight under the steps (open only from under the workbench, closed from the front and sides) he said, "there it is." I asked what it was and he said he didn't know but it was kind of big. So I, being the curious kind of girl that I am, grabbed the flashlight and caught a glimpse of fur. And you know what? My childhood came flooding back. I knew immediately that was the fur of a common possum. Well of course! It was happily observing its nocturnal behavior, cruising the garage at night and chilling out under the step all day. Somehow I was relieved that it wasn't something else but Jeff apparently didn't grow up with big possums every winter. So then the male hormones kicked in.

Jeff ordered me, Wyatt and Millie out of the garage (to my ears it sounded a little like, "take the yungins and yur pregnant body to safety, woman!") then called his dad for advice. His dad's advice was very sound - call the city, see if they'll help you out. I set to work on that from inside and discovered that yes, they'll help. I talked to a guy who said he'd have a park ranger call me back. I went to report that news to Jeff and discovered he'd alerted our neighbor who was hoping to extract the possum on his own. And he had a BB gun. Good times waiting to happen! I kept hearing thuds and thumps from the garage. The ranger called back, said he'd head our way but that it might take a little while, so I went out to report that fact and found our steps partially dismantled, the possum barricaded and another neighbor standing out there with a hose because he'd heard possums don't like water. Good idea! Let's make it really mad right before we try to get it out of there.

The second neighbor had the good sense to abandon the project as soon as he heard real help was on the way; Jeff and our other neighbor stood vigil to make sure it couldn't escape. And I was inside wanting so badly to be involved because I love this kind of stuff! Finally our good ol' boy ranger showed up and went to work. Only it turned out he didn't have a cage or trap in his truck, so he wasn't really sure what to do with it once it was captured. He figured he'd just walk it to the golf course and let it go. Only it didn't make it that far. That little possum wriggled free as we all traipsed through the easement and resettled under the catwalker's deck. Oops! We figure one of these nights there'll be a ruckus out there and we'll know the possum met the cats.
Maybe that's karma for being a kind of grumpy neighbor!

The men preparing for their work. Don't they look strong?

The ranger trying to figure out a plan of attack. With much supervision.
The ranger wielding his handy-dandy critter catcher.
One seriously ticked-off nocturnal rodent. Maybe the water didn't help after all?

Heading off into the sunset - note the possum planning his escape.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

That is too funny! Seriously, I can't believe you can simply make a phone call and have a ranger show up at your door a little while later! Good to know...