Friday, October 14, 2005

A close encounter of the “O” kind.

This morning the alarm went off at the appointed hour and I had time to prepare breakfast before leaving for work. (I just KNEW you’d want to know that, after yesterday...)

ANY-way, I was eating that breakfast (a cheese omelet with Canadian bacon, for those of you who track my eating habits) when from the garage came the unmistakable sound of things falling over. The garage is just off the kitchen, btw. What things? I couldn’t tell, but there was no clanging metal or shattering glass.

My first thought was, “It’s one of the #*!!#@*! neighborhood cats.”

I don’t know which neighbor(s) they “belong to” (you know what they say about cats belonging to people, or vice versa), but we have about 4 neighborhood cats that frequent our yard often to hunt birds by the birdbath. They also strut into our garage when it’s open and spray urine on just about everything in there. Marking their territory, I’d imagine. But nasty!

As soon as that image came to my mind I leaped up, threw open the door to the garage and hissed. Yes, I hissed. A loud hiss will always get a cat’s attention and usually scare it.

The response to my hiss was immediate thumping and bumping, but no animal raced out the open garage door. I strode toward the area from which the bumping noises had come, determined to give that cat a good scare. “That might keep it from venturing in here the next time it wants to spray something,” was my thought.

I stopped.

What if it’s not a cat? HA! Fearless, I grabbed a long-handled car-washing brush to fend off whatever rabid creature might attack me and stepped forward again.

And again I stopped.

What if it’s a skunk? Wouldn’t THAT be an appropriate follow up to yesterday morning’s coffee episode? We DO have an occasional skunk show up in the neighborhood. An encounter with a skunk would definitely delay my departure for work. By about a week, probably.

So I ducked back inside the kitchen and grabbed a flashlight. Yes, there’s an overhead light in the garage, but it was very dark in the corners. And the noises had come from one of the corners.

From about 10 feet away I aimed the light into the dark area. There, cowering behind the bottom rung of my stepladder and holding very still was the object of my search.

It was gray, with eyes that reflected red in the glare of the flashlight beam. It had a long, almost pink, hairless tail and a long pointy snout.

No, not a huge rat. It was an opossum ("possum" to all you southerners). You know, like Pogo? Anyway, they’re pretty harmless (if not rabid, which this guy didn’t seem to be).

In fact, (side note here, which Joy will remember) when my daughters were in elementary school we once found a dead mother possum that had been hit by a car but still had two live babies clinging to her body. We nursed the babies and raised them to a size we felt to be big enough to release, took them out into the countryside and let them go. They were definitely unusual pets.

And dumb? As a fence post!

In case you’ve never been around these creatures very much, they do, indeed, “play possum.” If they are threatened and have no place to hide or escape, they WILL lie down and not move. I remember one once who would bare its teeth slightly in a snarl if we approached, but otherwise was totally still. When we backed away a “safe” distance, it jumped up and ran off.

OK, back to my cornered garage guest. I figured he had probably wandered in looking for bugs to eat, and would quickly leave once he sensed the threat (me) was gone. I went back into the kitchen and finished my omelet. (It was very good, btw.) Ten minutes later there was no sign of Mr. O, as I had begun to think of him.

Next time things go bump in the dark garage I’ll probably get sprayed by a cat. Or Pepe LePew.

This morning my close encounter was of the “O” kind, but not Onerous. Next time...??

(And NO, all of you visually oriented readers, I did NOT get, or even try to get, any pictures!)


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you didn't get lulled into a sense of false security. A non-rabid oppossum, if cornered and feels threatened can be quite vicious - like all rodents (marsupial ones too) they have some nasty razor sharp teeth.
Great post!

kenju said...

I thought you were going to tell us that Oprah walked into your kitchen!

Karyn Lyndon said...

Well, of course, you know what I thought O stood for.

Have to run...I have a strange craving for an omelet.