gardening | Wildlife

A Pair of Opossums Enter the Scene

I have two neighbors I’ve only seen once, just the other day from an upstairs window overlooking the backyard and the woods beyond. At the edge of the woods there’s a chain link fence that once occasionally held the dog in and now defines the wild from the manicured backyard I wrestle with endlessly. It seems at some point a couple moved into the vacant (of humans anyway) part of my yard that lies beyond the fence. A pair of opossums entered the scene and I can’t stop thinking about the new neighbors.

I watched them, deep in opossum couple conversation, climb over the old stone wall that marks time in centuries, linger at the gnarled roots of a red maple and slowly make their way into the pile of brush piled just on the other side of the fence. It seems this is the ideal love nest for this pair, and they’re likely doing their business of creating the next generation of opossums as I write. I don’t mind, we can use all the tick and bug eaters we can get around here. I can do without the chipmunks and the groundhog that nibbles on my sweet potato vines and tomatoes, but the opossums are okay in my book. Keep gobbling up those ticks and we’ll be fast friends.

Funny thing about opossums, the males are called Jacks and the females Jills. Their offspring are called Joeys. They’re nocturnal and generally transient animals, unless they find some cushy love nest anyway. Some people call me Jack, but nobody would call me nocturnal. But we all have our time, and Jack and Jill can have the night. We can say hello during the morning shift change. Hello, Jack! Hello Jack and Jill! And Joey, and Joey, and Joey… but I digress. Opossums have a way of distracting me with their delightfully different vibe.

Which brings me to the elephant in the room: That silent O in opossum. Who’s idea was it to drop that in there anyway? I complain about learning French, but English is no picnic either. Silent O indeed. It’s my native language and I’m still inclined to start saying “O” when I read the word. Who made these rules anyway? Someone who thought about how delightful it would be to screw with the world for generations. Probably someone named Jack. Or Jill. You know they’re the troublemakers… unlike our friends the opossums.

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