25 June 2011

Playing pug/opossum

Quite the commotion last night around 11:00 at our house. Meenie Beens is staying the weekend with us and Macauley and I let Booker and her out through the screened porch for a bedtime bathroom break. Macauley heard something on the steps scatter and Booker of course shot out in pursuit while Meena followed at her usual adorable pace. I've been feeding birds this summer and have attracted a number of (greedy, I must say) squirrels and I wasn't sure if we had a raccoon back there or what at that time of night. Our backyard was pitch black so I sent Macauley for a flashlight. The halo of light landed on a petrified opossum curled up at the foot of the stairs with Booker inches from its face and Meena wiggling her way toward it. Fearing rabies or who knows what, I overreacted and shrieked for Macauley to "Get Dad!" Both dogs came back up the stairs with a "what's the big deal?" expression on their faces before Ryan made it to the rescue. From the safety of the screened porch we shined the light back to the spot and saw only a bloody splat where the opossum had been. Ryan googled it and found that opossums don't actually "play" dead on purpose but rather pass out from fear in stressful situations and often throw up or spit and "squirt" (they don't spray evidently) at the same time, making themselves as unappealing to predators as possible, so maybe the "blood" was something else. Gross nevertheless. I had to sponge off a streak of this horrific smelling opossum juice from Booker's side but haven't made it down for a closer look or clean up of the blob on the stepping stone at the bottom of the stairs yet.

I grew up in the country and have of course seen opossums many times, up close, far away, stiff on the side of the road, even climbing along the top of a neighbor's privacy fence. But having my sweet B and Lindsay's Meener within striking distance got me all riled up! And it gave Macauley bad dreams. He woke up at 4 am quite distraught and explained his "nightmare" to me as I walked him to the bathroom. In short, he dreamed that "a raccoon was making all these dishes." In my mind, I went straight to pottery, like a raccoon throwing plates on a potter's wheel, but he meant cooking, like a raccoon chef, and feeding the berry concoctions to me as Macauley watched. "And then I said, 'Mom? Mom!' and you just looked at me and said, 'I don't know who you are,' and you had a golden, glowing ring around your head for, like, 5 minutes, until you recognized me again." He went on to explain that the raccoon set out a "feast" of the memory-blocking berries buffet-style and that he had to swipe all the food off the table forcefully to keep me from eating it. Then I was on the internet trying to buy some of the raccoon's food and he had to hammer in the power button on my computer to keep me from it. Even awake in the bathroom he was very upset by this scenario and told me this morning he couldn't get it out of his head all night and didn't sleep well. None of us did, actually.

I was thinking we might settle in and watch the newer Alice in Wonderland tonight, but something tells me that particularly kooky adventure might trigger a recurrence of the dream about the raccoon peddling mind-erasing berries. This time it might be stuck in my head, though...


Karee said...

A friend and I went down to Arkansas this weekend and we hit an opossum. She "didn't see it" til it was a few feet away, but she didn't even swerve! It was quite horrifying, I could not imagine having one in my backyard.

Karee said...

Oh wait false alarm... we hit an armadillo. I guess they are a little bumpier.


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