Since so many of you find the little opossum in the previous post interesting, and since I've not told the 2006 opossum story on this blog as I thought I had, I will now tell the tale.
July 4, 2006. My parents were up for a few days of holiday fun. We were roasting marshmallows by the backyard campfire to make s'mores. Sam began to bark and bark and bark his urgent bark. Tom and Joe found what the ruckus was all about - Sam had found a baby possum (pictured below) under the squash leaves in the garden.
Tom picked him up, we each took a peek, I took some pictures, then Tom set the little guy (gal?) free in the neighbor's backyard where an overgrown blackberry thicket tangles. Tom has always wanted a pet opossum but I've always thought it would be a bad idea. For better or worse, we did things my way on Independence Day.
A few weeks later who should appear but this same little possum perched unperturbed on the six-foot fence under the purple-flowered shrubs. At the scent and sound of the schlumpy critter Sam shot out of the house, low and fast, toe-nails digging into the dirt as he streaked to the fence. Our overly-excited beagle positioned his trembling, tense, muscular body below the intruder and commenced barking bloody murder.
It was midnight.
Tom sauntered toward the crazed beagle where he spotted the possum, surprised to see familiar markings. It was unmistakably the same little one grown up a bit. My just-home-from-work husband stroked the stiff-haired animal's head. Yes, you read correctly, stroked its head. Right between his beady eyes and behind his perky ears.
Naturally Sam went bananas with his barking as if to say, "Tom, don't you know, it's an enemy in our compound. What are you doing scratching its HEAD! Stop! Cease! Desist! Pu-lease!"
Tom didn't stop.
The girls named the opossum Gollum for in The Lord of the Rings Gollum and Samwise are adveraries. Sam, the beagle, is named Samwise after Frodo's true and loyal companion, for that it was Sammy is to us.
Gollum came by every single night until the rainy season began. Weeks, weeks of midnight beagle dash-and-bark and freshly-showered Tom walking out to stroke his fence-roosting friend, Gollum. Weeks of summer and early autumn nights when I stared at my bedroom ceiling listening to backyard racket wondering how I ended up in this circus of a life.
Maybe this story helps you understand why, when Sam discovered another stray baby possum the other day, I said in no uncertain terms, "No. No. No. Don't even think about it, no more possum pets, no Gollum #2, fuggedaboudit."
Tom, who's experienced his pet possum dream, has agreed that once was enough. It's fun for awhile, sure, but midnight barkings and scratchings get old, even for a possum enthusiast. It was fun (funny!) while it lasted.
Happily, little Gollum 2 from the previous post is more shy than his predecessor and we all remain asleep at midnight. Even the dog. Most of the time.
It is as it should be.