Monday, January 07, 2008

All Creatures Great and Small

Today, we noticed that two rather sizeable opossums (heretofore to be knows as possums, because I feel pretentious typing an "o" that serves no pupose) had taken up residence atop Stumpy, the tree that's next to our deck. (If you forgot, here's the short version: Stumpy is a tulip poplar that was damaged in the storms of 2000, so rather than have it cut down entirely, we had it cut off about twenty-five feet off the ground, which is about ten feet above deck level. The three has thrived since then, putting on some twenty feet of limb growth--but you can still see the level-cut part of the tree in the center, and hence the name "Stumpy.") Since the possums were scaring away birds and squirrels who came up to the deck to eat, I decided to try to chase 'em away.

I wish I hadn't.

In the process of trying to chase them away, I managed to scare off the larger male, but I somehow injured the medium-sized female... not a life-threatening injury, but she was hurt and was bleeding. I felt truly awful about it; even an oversized rodent like a possum simply wants to exist, to eat, to find companionship... She was scared, and rather than vacating Stumpy, she went even higher, where I couldn't get to her. There she sat all day long, staring dolefully at me whenever I'd look out on the deck to see if perhaps she'd come down and gone away.

If I had it to do over again, I'd leave the possums along entirely; I'd much rather have them there than have one of them hurt--and I hate knowing that it was my fault that she's injured.

This evening, the large male came back, climbed the tree, ignored the food I'd put out in hopes of luring her down, comforted her, then led her down the tree and off into the woods. I was glad to see him back--but looking into those round black eyes, I felt intense sorrow knowing that I had caused one of them harm. They may not be sleek or appealing or attractive, but they're creatures trying to find a home for themselves in a region increasingly occupied by people, and they had no intention of doing anything bad.

I'm glad he came back for her, and I'm glad they're together--and I have vowed that if they do return, they'll never have to fear being hurt by me again. They deserve better than that...


Anonymous said...

oh my goodness. finally someone that feels the same way about animals, critters, whatever, that i do.

Anonymous said...

that previous comment was from aunt donna