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.")


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice words about Gollum,he is an interesting little fellow. He may look scary or mean but he is not.

Ann said...

What a wonderful story for me to wake up to this morning! And I love the photos.

deanna said...

How familiar this sounds! Except that we never befriended our "gollums"; Brindy just raced out and barked at them. Now she can't hear, but early in the morning she smells that they were visiting, and she yips it up, saying, "I know you were here!"

We have gracious neighbors. Hope you do, too. ;-)

Cherie said...

Deanna, we have hard of hearing neighbors who love animals as much as we do. Good thing, huh!


Ann, I'm so glad to know this happy post was your wake up story today. Thanks for telling me so!

Cassie said...

Yeah, Gollum! Cute little guy!
I hope he still lets us pet him this year! : )

Cute pictures Mommy!

Pam said...

Sorry, Tom, I'm with Sam on this one... 'Possum = Huge Scary Rat in my book.

Cherie said...

Pam, Tom says to tell you, "In the fall, when Golllum's new thick fur comes in, it gets really soft and silky."

tshsmom said...

I LOVE this post!
This is just tooooo funny! Your crazy family would fit right in with my crazy family. ;)
You have Samwise, our dog is Hairry Potter(he has a lightning-shaped swirl of hair on his nose). Your family pets possums, my family pets flying squirrels(also nocturnal).
We also have several undesireable night visitors, like bears and the family of 4 baby skunks we had last summer. We also used to have a Great Grey Owl that kept trying to get Hairry, when he was a puppy, every time we put him out at night.
Most people have no idea what goes on in their yards at night.

Pam said...

Cherie, tell Tom, "Eeeek!" and "Achoo!"

Cherie said...

Pam, considered him...ah....ah....Ah...AH TOLD!

tshs: Why am I not surprised that we have another thing in common?!? :-D

Hairry Potter - clever! And flying squirrels, yippee! Plus bears, skunks, and a Great Grey Owl. Cool! You are right, most people have no idea..........sure glad we do! Thanks for the interesting facts about your also weird and wacky family.

Glad you enjoyed the post!

Sandy said...

Sorta cute, sorta ugly, I'm with Pam! Poor little ugly thing is confused. Reminds me a little of the hobbit.

Cherie said...

"Look beneath the surface: never let a thing's intrinsic quality or worth escape you." ~~ Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

I know, I know, another quote. Little Gollum sort of grows on a person, he's quite gentle.

I guess one lesson here is that God really does take care of His creatures - he had Baby Gollum fall off the fence into the yard of someone who would appreciate him, care for him, and on whom he could safely imprint. Tom. They were made for each other.

Thank goodness God looks beneath the surface - otherwise, I'd be doomed.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Cherie! One of Gollum's intrinsic qualities is that he makes Tom happy. Yey! Fun story, and a happy ending.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to tell you I like the quote on here about mother's arms. I needed it today and remembered it. It helped! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Good hearts, there is always a reward for being kind. I'm glad Gollum found you all.

Cherie said...

Thanks, Sandy. Your gentle words made Tom feel good today. Me, too!

tshsmom said...

You're right. God puts these creatures where they'll be protected.
We used to have a pair of mallards that nested in our yard. Every year, I would stop traffic so mama duck could get her babies safely across the highway to the river. Who else would be crazy enough to do that?

Cherie said...

tshs: Are we related and just don't know it?? :-D

Anonymous said...

I showed this to my friends at school and we all liked the pics of the oppossum. We like the name Gollum!! My bf said to tell Tom he's nice to take care of the little animal and that your story was good. Thnx! We like your blgo.

Anonymous said...

I mean blog : /

Cherie said...

I gave Tom your bf's message. He says, Thank You! I'm happy that there are young people like you and your friends who appreciate animals. Thanks!

Carrie said...

I for one think he is VERY CUTE! I think he looks like he is smiling in both of them! He DOES have soft fur and it was silky! He is cuter than a rat ( rats are pretty cute though) He will even lick ya!

I like him ALOT!

Cherie said...

I like him a lot, too, Caroline! Thanks for the comment.