Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day, or The Day Joe Realized What Playing Possum Means

Happy Holidays from Persimmon Acres!
 Well, we had a White Christmas indeed! About 4 inches of champaign powder fell on Christmas Eve, and all day on Christmas, a very light and lovely snow fell. And although Rich & I missed our families, I have to say, this may have been the happiest Christmas yet! After a great breakfast (pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs & mimosas!) we leisurely opened presents. The dogs opened their presents. At some point, just after noon, I took Kerouac & Happy outside. In general, Kerouac is always on leash because he tends to get to chasing something and frankly, I can't keep up, and on the first Sunday we lived here, he wandered off into a cornfield, and after two hours of frantic looking, we finally saw him slowly sauntering down the road back home... It was terrifying for me, so I keep him on leash for my own sanity. But it was Christmas Day, and there was fresh snow on the ground, and I wanted to see him running around. So these two dogs were running around, enjoying the snow, doing their business. I saw Happy get into predator mode: tail straight out, front legs down, and then saw him leap onto something. I see both him and Kerouac do this move quite a lot, and generally, they're after moles or mice, so I wasn't too worried. I casually called him to me, and turned to see him facing off with something that was almost the same size as he is. Kerouac was preoccupied, so I yelled at Happy, who ran off, but that unfortunately drew Kerouac's attention. And before I could stop him, he was on the creature. In the few seconds' between my seeing Happy pounce and yelling at him, I realized that the creature was the possum we've been seeing during the days. I know they're supposedly nocturnal creatures, but I guess the lure of our compost pile must be too much for it... I picked up a log, thinking I'll need it to pry Kerouac off of the damn thing. Or to beat it, if it attacks Kerouac. As I approached, Kerouac was standing over the possum, with his face between the possum's ears. I walked up to him, and was able to pull Kerouac off of the animal, who just lay there.

Now, I have never been this close to a possum before. When I lived in Chicago, we had a momma possum who lived in the tree outside our sunroom, and we would watch her carry her youngsters in her pouch, and this fall we would see an even larger possum out by the apple tree, gorging itself as the sun set. But pulling your dog off of one was an odd experience. And I was yelling, imaging the now-urgent need to take Kerouac to the vet emergency room, and that this lovely Christmas Day was now over. But after a quick inspection, I realized Kerouac was unscathed. Amazing. The possum, who was still lying at my feet, appeared dead. It was frozen on the ground, eyes open but unmoving, teeth bared. And what teeth! His mouth was about the same size as Kerouac's head (about five inches long) but full of some really sharp and nasty-looking teeth. How neither he nor Happy had been bit is amazing. I figured they must have surprised it in it's post-compost-eating haze and shocked it to death. And I knew it was dead, because it certainly wasn't moving. I took Kerouac and Happy inside, and grabbed my camera and went back outside. The possum hadn't moved and I took the above picture. (I decided I would wait a few more minutes to get a closer picture, and one of it's teeth when I knew for sure it was dead.) I went inside and told Rich about our adventures. The dogs were inspected again (nothing wrong with either of them) and given treats, and when we looked out the Florida Room door, we saw the possum had moved. It was standing a few feet from where I last saw it, standing as if completely dazed, but definitely alive. I told Rich that I was certain it was dead. He asked me if I'd ever heard of the phrase playing possum, and I realized I had, and had just seen it for real!

So one of the inadvertent gifts I received this Christmas was a nice little lesson courtesy of nature. I'm certain both dogs were lucky they surprised that possum, and that the possum was full with it's recent meal. And it makes (hopefully) a great story.


  1. It definitely makes a great story. Wow!

  2. Now they will be after every possum and think they have the upper hand! Beware!