Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The Witching Hour
If you've managed to rummage through my archives enough, you may have read the 2006 July Fourth posting, which recounts the evening that Sammy, our dog, sniffed out a baby opossum playing dead under the lush leaves of our vegetable garden, while we were outside roasting marshmallows. Our normally easy-going beagle barked like a psycho.
For some odd reason Tom has always been taken with 'possums. He thinks they are cute. (Don't even ask what this means about his attraction to ME!) He rescued the little unharmed baby creature from Sam and, after much convincing, set him free. He and the girls were worried about the baby's survival chances. I was hopeful that the little guy would reconnect with his mother. (The above photo is the opossum right after rescue from the tomato patch.)
Two weeks later, at midnight, Sammy began barking like a maniac. Sure enough, there was a critter out there, on the fence. It was the baby 'possum, back for a visit. It only took a few midnight visits before Tom was hand feeding the 'possum and scratching the little bug-eyed thing's noggin.
Okay, rewind. Three years ago Joe named our beagle Samwise, after the true and faithful hobbit friend of Frodo, in 'Lord of the Rings', because our newly weaned puppy, Sam, was Joe's loyal friend right from the start. In the 'Lord of the Rings' books Samwise has a creepy nemesis named Gollum, who is constantly trying to steal the precious ring from Frodo. Samwise is on to Gollum, and foils him every time, faithfully warning Frodo.
Fast forward. Last summer this 'possum became Sam's nemesis right away. Each night the pointy-nosed, rat-tailed marsupial waddled along the tall fence pickets in the quiet darkness of night, until he came to rest among the branches of our flowering shrubs. For a few weeks Sam went bananas every single time, barking, jumping up against the fence, looking at Tom wild-eyed as if to say, "He's an enemy! Warning, warning! Don't TOUCH him! What the heck are you DOing!! Flee! Flee! Danger, danger!" Naturally, my animal loving family picked a name for the nightly visitor: Gollum.
Can you picture this? While a glowing-eyed, pink-nosed, slumping animal skitters along cedar pickets, Sam, after waking from his bed, begins tearing through the house. The crazed beagle then shoots out his doggie door. Clawing at the lawn as he streaks to the corner of the yard he hurtles his muscular body into the shrubs, where he then jumps, snaps, and barks, like a deranged nut. Tom, usually awake at this time, smiles and mutters contently, "Gollum." Out the door he saunters, cat food and veggies in his fist. Joe, also awake, meets Tom in the yard with a flashlight. The girls, not supposed to be awake, tippy toe in their little jammies down the walkway, squealing with girlish delight to watch as Daddy feeds the grizzled Gollum, then scratches him between his eyes. At midnight, mind you. Me? I remain in bed wondering how I ended up in the looney bin.
(Okay, this scraggly nocturnal creature IS sorta cute in an ugly kind of way. I have been known to participate in the Gollum Ritual. Thankfully, most nights last summer we just rolled over and went back to sleep. So did Sam.)
Tom was sad and concerned when the cold, rain, and snow kept Gollum away for two seasons.
Sam barked his crazy bark last night. We thought it was cats. The following morning, however, Joe told us that at midnight when he heard Sam bark he looked out his garden window, just in time to see Gollum hunching and skittering along the pickets, heading for the shrubs, looking for a good scratch. (This photo is Gollum after a head scratching last summer.)
Tom's little buddy is okay. He's so happy!
Good-bye peaceful midnight. Hello looney bin.
(Now I know why Grandma referred to midnight as, "The Witching Hour.")