I’ve been watching for the baby opossums now roaming freely in this area (I’m assuming their mothers finally kicked them to the curb and told them all to go support themselves). While I can’t verify I’ve seen the same baby I photographed a few weeks ago, I have seen a baby opossum on several occasions since then. Perhaps I’ve only seen one; perhaps I’ve seen several. It’s impossible to tell.
So this morning around 5:00 I’m wide awake, so I drag my ass out of bed and start my day. Sleep has been quite illusory of late. With feline integration, sick children, and a home turned upside-down by one woman’s unimaginable stupidity, not to mention a plethora of less noteworthy concerns, the last several nights have been restless at best. I’m sure by now I’m functioning on only a few hours of sleep since Sunday. But I digress…
I brush my teeth and throw on some clothes, give each of my cats much deserved attention, slip on a pair of sandals, and then I step outside to have a cigarette. It’s dark as you can guess. I don’t see any visitors such as cats or raccoons or opossums or armadillos, so I seem to have the morning and the patio all to myself.
An almost inaudible noise catches my attention. It sounds like a very brief rustling of leaves. There’s a light breeze and it’s not unheard of for foliage to fall from the bushes and trees without inducement, so seeing nothing in the direction of the noise causes me to disregard it as a dead leaf falling to the ground, or ground cover being pushed aside by an insect or lizard.
I’m standing against the fence and have not moved except for my head glancing this way and that. My mind is racing with a list of things to do today that rivals the works of Shakespeare. There’s grocery shopping, vacuuming, more cleaning and recovery, time with these rather demanding cats, a whole lot of laundry, car registration, scheduling a car inspection, paying bills and working on finances, and the list goes on. I have no interest in much of it except The Kids and trying to relax, but this stuff isn’t going to take care of itself despite how much I wish it would.
Briefly lost in the moment, I’m only partially aware of the quick movement at my feet. Something crosses through the fence and is right next to me. It’s moving in my direction and reaches me far more quickly than I am able to react.
It runs right over my sandal-clad foot. And there it stops.
I come unglued. In the dark and having seen nothing more than a peripheral view of the invader, all I know is that it is the size, shape, and color of a large mouse/small rat and is now sitting on my essentially bare foot.
“Eeek!” is the appropriate response. Still, I refrain from any frantic or unbecoming displays of panic, such as screaming like a woman and running with my hands waving in the air, but instead I move more quickly than I thought myself capable.
The foot under the beast rapidly launches it to the side — along with my sandal, although that was not intentional — with a quick movement intended not to hurt it but to definitely relocate it. This ejection is coupled with a decisive step backward and in the opposite direction.
Now wearing only one sandal and quite concerned about that given the circumstances, I stop and look as carefully as possible to see what creature might be so bold as to assault me right here on my own patio while I’m trying to mind my own business.
It’s a baby opossum. About the same size as the one I photographed, it easily could stand in the palm of my hand with room to spare. In the dark, however, it was perfectly sized and shaped to look just like an unwanted rodent. I feel bad for my reaction.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem too upset, but neither does it seem interested in hanging around to see if that was the only punishment it would receive. As easily as water from a faucet, it slips right back through the fence and quickly scampers past me on its way around the corner. I whisper an apology over the fence as it moves by me.
Once it’s around the corner and no longer in sight, I step over and slip on the sandal so wrongfully tossed aside in my manly panic. I giggle to myself about how absolutely silly I am at times.
I turn around and see either the same or another baby opossum come through the fence and prance right through the middle of the patio. This time I can see what it is, so I don’t panic. I let it go on its merry way, and that carries it right past my feet. It never pauses but instead moves along quietly, eventually slipping back through the fence with such ease that it’s a completely silent maneuver, and then it disappears around the corner.