Ahh, a three day weekend, a grand opportunity to enjoy an extra day away from work to do…whatever. The exodus had begun as the masses of people lined up with their boats and campers to head out of town for the last three day weekend of the year, Labor Day. Our choice generally includes hanging around the house and letting the crowds at the lake have it to themselves. This year was no different.
As I got up early on that Saturday my agenda was already intact. A couple of nights before, our oldest son Andrew had come by the house and, upon his departure, removed the bulk of his belongings that had been collecting dust in the corner of our garage. Andrew’s haul away was the jumpstart I had needed, jolting me into action—it was time to clean the garage.
With my belly full of coffee and my working clothes on, I journeyed outside at the break of dawn while others upstairs were still snoozing. As the automatic garage door roared to life and moved toward the ceiling I could feel the rush of 59 degree air on a wonderfully cool pre-fall day. The cool air was a blessing as compared to the above 90 degree heat we had still been enduring as August passed and September arrived.
I sprung into action dragging junk out, exposing parts of the walls that I’d not seen in awhile. As I piled junk in the middle of the floor and swept dirt and dusted off shelves, a cloud of dust filled the air. My time was limited before the “helpers” would soon be arriving at my work zone. Before long, little people would begin staging a rescue attempt, pulling items from the overflowing trashcan—items that I had already decided were unneeded.
As the day rolled on and the junk rolled out, my helpers began playing games with balls and skates, happy to have some free space in our new garage. It’s always amazing to see the kids get exuberant about things they haven’t seen in awhile, almost like Christmas except better—it’s free. As the work was grinding to a halt (along with my ambition), I was interrupted by a scream that came from the backyard. It was my wife Katrina, in distress, yelling, “David, you have to come back here! There’s a possum in the backyard!”
Glad to have a break in the action, I sauntered up the hill and into the yard as Katrina continued to say, “It’s over there, it’s over there.” Since I had just arrived on the scene it took me a moment to discern where “over there” was in our fenced in yard, but finally I spotted the critter. Sure enough, a large possum was hunkered in the back corner of the yard, apparently clueless as to how he got in there in the first place. As I got closer to the visitor, he just did what possums do, played possum.
I looked around for something to coax him out of the yard with, but saw nothing, and could see that he wasn’t going anywhere as the crowd gathered nearby to watch the spectacle. I told them to keep an eye on him while I went and got something to run him out of the yard with.
As I walked back to my nearly sterile garage, thoughts of shooting him had entered my mind, but I ruled that out due to the rated G audience that was in attendance. So I grabbed a shovel in the garage, headed back to the roundup, and began to shoo him down the fence line. Our friend was not being very cooperative as he stood there staring at me, mouth open as saliva dripped from his panting jaw. As I admired the rows of sharp teeth he was happily displaying for me, I suddenly thought of the saying an old friend at work used to say. It seemed as though every time someone was smiling mischievously about something they’d done, he would say “He’s grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ crap!” Possums are indeed notorious for eating anything they can get their snout in.
Mr. Wormtail the possum didn’t seem a bit interested in moving along, so I had to gently scoop him down the fence with the shovel. After a few minutes of pushing him along the kids got a good look at him as our vicious Yorkie-Poo, Sammy the wonder dog, was being restrained by our son Bradley, lunging toward our attacker and growling. As quickly as the incident began, it ended when Mr. Wormtail finally took his eyes off of me and saw the gate we had opened. Bradley continued to restrain Sammy as we watched our intruder waddle away; probably wishing he had not waddled in to this excitement in the first place.
As the day came to a close, having long since finished the garage, we finished off the day with a weenie and marshmallow roast around a fire. We gathered chairs up and as dusk settled in around us we enjoyed the fire at the edge of our woods. We talked with the kids about what life might be like if we didn’t have a house and if we had to live off the land to find food. I mentioned to them that we could have had possum stew today, and they cringed at the thought of it as much as Katrina cringed at the thought of cooking it. I told them that I had always heard that they are kind of greasy.
Maybe we could settle for squirrel instead. They taste like chicken you know.
“But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’” Acts 11:8
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, September 12, 2010.