By Susan Hayhurst
What does it mean when you have a dark porch, a set of beady eyes and a dog that’s barking hysterically?
My husband, Terry, was about to put Fred, our daughter’s Welsh corgi, out for his evening constitution. Terry turned on the light of the screened-in porch and found our cat, Snurffle, sitting on the table with her tail looking like a firecracker had just gone off. Then Terry saw the possum — or opossum, if you like — waddling across the porch toward the pile of wicker furniture.
Thinking better of leaving Fred out, he brought both Fred and Snurffle in the house while the ugly rodent climbed up the wicker. Fred proceeded to run helter-skelter from the dining room french doors to the living room window, barking ferociously.
Fred is a frequent noisemaker, so I continued reading a book in the family room — until I heard, “Honey, you need to see this!”
I looked out said window to see (future) roadkill perched on my overturned wicker settee. The possum wasn’t even smart enough at that point to play dead. We left him to leave the porch on his own recognizance.
Of course, I had to Google “opossum.” According to Wikipedia, John Smith of pilgrim fame and Jamestown, Va., first recorded the beast as “hath a head like a swine, tail like a rat, of the bigness of a cat.” This marsupial is also known for a narrow braincase (duh) and having a pouch like a kangaroo.
The Virginia opossum was once widely hunted and eaten, much like Granny did in “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Supposedly it tastes like chicken. Never on my plate.
Roadkill can even be beneficial. Fatty opossum grease has been used as a chest rub. Move over, Vicks VapoRub!
Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute, Ind.