Monday, March 28, 2011

My Neighbor's Opossum


See this nice old lady? That is Miss Terry. She is holding Louise. In case you're too polite to mention it, yes, Louise is an opossum.  She is Miss Terry's pet.

Miss Terry would love to talk to you about that possum.

I snapped this picture today when Miss Terry sidled up to my car window to chat.  I was bringing Normal Neighbor home from chemotherapy, and Miss T lives right across the street from her.  She was standing at the end of her driveway like someone who wanted very badly to be chatted with, so I obliged.  I kept the engine running because otherwise I would still be there, God love her.

This is actually the second possum that Miss Terry has kept as a pet.  This story is now engraved in the book of neighborhood lore: Some children were playing in the creek down behind Miss Terry's house and found a little half-drowned baby possum. They brought it to her and she nursed it and raised it, in the process learning quite a bit about the thriving subculture of people who keep possums as pets. Or she tells me it's a thriving subculture. I have yet to perform the first google search.

The first possum and Miss Terry shared several happy years together, until one day, it got out of the house and went missing.  For more information, call 1-800-COYOTE.

We moved into the neighborhood in the dark days following First Possum's disappearance.  These days, in neighborhood chronicles, this is referred to as the Interpossum Era.  I heard all about First Possum from Miss Terry herself, when she cornered me at a cocktail party at my next-door neighbor's house. She was so distraught when telling about losing that possum, we both cried.

But word spread throughout the land that Miss Terry loved having that opossum and would be thrilled to get another one.  You can't exactly buy them at Petsmart though, that was the problem. At length, somehow, another baby possum turned up. I think someone rescued it from a roadkill situation. (A mother possum on the side of the road may have babies in her pouch; the possum lovers always stop to check.)

So Louise came into Miss Terry's life and neither one of them could be happier. Or Miss Terry couldn't be happier, I am not that sure about Louise.  Seems like a pretty nice life.  Miss T says that they are trainable, about like a cat, and make very agreeable house companions. Her fur is very soft, and if you can get over the long, long, ratlike tail, she is cute.  Her little nose is quite mobile and her ears remind me of bats' wings.

Laura told me that she went to Miss Terry's house and fed grapes to Louise while Louise climbed all over her. I only have to suppress the tiniest of shudders when thinking of that.

It is a measure of the crazy stuff that goes on in this neighborhood that I have never blogged about Miss Terry.  You can see why I need this forum for working through these things.

Shortly after I snapped this photo, Miss Terry convinced me to open my car door and let a Basset hound climb in.  The dog was roaming around loose and Miss T wanted to take Louise for a walk. I wish I were making this up.  I wanted to tell her that I would rather hang around and watch the Basset hound eat the possum.  But instead I collected the dog and drove it to its house, the home of the Mystery People. Figures.

Dog's name is Bess.

I hope you've enjoyed this slice of life in my 'hood.

31 comments:

Maggie May said...

so cool! this reminds me of the motley crew of 'pets' in the Lad: A Dog series. They had a raccoon that washed it's food in their stream... :)

Jason said...

I really, really did enjoy this. Miss Terry looks very sweet. She must have a big heart, cause I don't think I could get over the big ratty rat-like rat tail.

Amy said...

Oops! That was me, above. :)

Amy said...

Lawzabee. How utterly hilarious... and kind of sweet at the same time. But I can understand, between Conspiracy Guy and NN and PN and FN, how she hasn't gotten any airtime.

How is Rebel Yellin Mom, btw? I was wondering about her recently.

Jenni said...

Let me tell you, possums are GROSS. I can't stop shuddering.

Keely said...

They're both adorable. I dig the non-traditional pets myself.

For other people, anyway.

Steve said...

In some parts of the country we dial 1-800-victuals.

Marie said...

OMG! OMG!OMG! OMG!OMG! OMG! OMG!
OMG! OMG!OMG!, etc.

Camp Papa said...

Well, I'm happy for Miss Terry, and perhaps the possum, too. Most of my personal encounters with possums have ranged from a mild mutual suspicion to active mutual aggression, only once did an encounter end in one of us lying in hot gravy surrounded by sweet potatoes. And that once was probably sufficient for both species.

Becky said...

Them's good eatin'!

Dad, how do I not know this story of the possum and the sweet potatoes? I'm guessing it was you in the hot gravy.

KathyS said...

Lordy, woman; where is it that you live? 'Cause it ain't in any universe I recognize ...

Veronica said...

OMG, cuh-razy.

Star said...

Delightful post, thanks!

Elizabeth said...

The possum sort of makes me sick. I saw one cross my yard one afternoon, and I felt sick, too. I don't think I'm so good with possums.

Flora Fauna Dinner said...

This is my favourite post ever.

I have never seen an opossum - they don't look real to me. I had to Google to see the tail.

I would totally be a pouch-checker.

On the other hand, I also want to know what they taste like. Squirrel?

jo said...

tastes just like...chicken

M said...

The last possum I saw roaming/waddling in my hood was the size of New York City. I find them repulsive beyond compare. The most memorable one turned up in our backyard years ago, rabid as all get-out, so animal control took it out and then away, thankfully. Total ick. Just below squirrels and rats in my why-do-you-exist chain.

kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
My Kids' Mom said...

Love your post, love your neighborhood, don't much love 'possums.

janimal said...

My 2 year old recently went to the pet store with her father. When I asked what pet she wanted, she said POSSUM. I keep asking, and she keeps saying POSSUM! Your story about Louise has not convinced me it's a good idea. No thanks!

Monica said...

Two things regarding the possum:

1) My dear grandmother Mawmaw, rest her soul, always called a certain part of the female anatomy a possum.

2) With the above in mind, you HAVE to watch this video about Proper Possum Massage.

http://mepearl.com/2010/06/proper-opossum-massage/

A Day That is Dessert said...

You always make me long for more excitement in my neighborhood :)

Messy Mom said...

I am with the possums are gross group. I took the kids to a zoo exhibit they had at the library and learned that the opossums are the ones we have here like Louis, and possums are from Australia, maybe you've seen one since you've been there. I thought that was interesting, although I consider possum a nickname so it all works.

Kate said...

there are no words . . .

Elizabeth said...

Gee, thanks. Until this post, I had completely forgotten (repressed?) a horrifying little incident from maybe six months ago. I was coming home one night, pretty late for me, maybe 10, with my 5 year old asleep in the back seat. We pulled into the driveway, and as we did, movement caught my eye on the fence that's right on the left edge of the driveway. Cat? No. Possum? Um, um, um...no? I really would have preferred to think that, but after running along the fence TOWARD me, the damn thing stopped to camp out in the tree that's about a foot in front of where I was. So I got a good opportunity to stare at it. And while I'm not much of a rodent expert, I'm pretty sure this thing was a rat, not a possum. Didn't have the weird little face and had short, greasy rat fur. But damned if it wasn't literally as big as my cat, who's a bit plus-sized herself. Probably about a foot long (nasty long rat tail not included). If I hadn't been so busy hyperventilating and frantically trying to figure out how I was going to get out of the car and get my sleeping child out of the car and inside without The Thing eating us both, I would have had the sense to take a picture. Eventually, it departed, but it was about half an hour before I dared to get out of the car. And I really had forgotten all about it. Now I'll be staring at the tree every time I come home after dark...

Common Household Mom said...

Louise was the name of my dearly beloved cat that we had during my childhood. I don't think I could feel the same way about an opossum. But you do have a MOST interesting neighborhood.

Suburban Princess said...

Oh my that's hilarious!! I take it opossums arent well liked?

I wish my neighbours were even half as interesting!

crazylovescompany said...

My skin is still crawling after looking at her snuggling up to that thing. Don't they bite? Ughickew.

Patrick said...

I've always heard opossums are very fierce when they are cornered. That would make me afraid to get all cuddly with them. Aside from that, I guess they'd make semi-ok-but-probably-not-so-good pets. After all, their penchant for chain-smoking often proves too much for most owners, and, well, their being a freakin' oppossum.

Great post!

gretchen said...

Miss Terry and Louise seem just so...Southern to me. Let's hope Granny Clampett stays away from Louise. Them's vittles.

Aimee said...

Awesome. I love your neighborhood...rather, I love reading about it from afar. I can't wait to get to know all our neighbors...