This Possum Was A Squatter In My Yard

by Kevin Burton

   So there’s possum poop in my back yard. 

   A million forays into that good forest would not have netted me this information.  A guy who came to spray for bugs told me about it.

   And I’m sure it’s true. I know he is knowledgeable and professional because he called it “scat.” Possum scat.  I had to be reminded what “scat” is.

   And I’m sure it is still there. He didn’t say anything about removing said scat. It’s not in his scope of work.

   Merriam-Webster says it’s ok for me to spell possum without an o on the front of it, that both versions are acceptable. 

   “In common use, possum is the usual term; in technical or scientific contexts opossum is preferred,” Merriam-Webster says, adding “Opossum can be pronounced either with its first syllable voiced or silent.”

   I’m going to say Page 7 is a common use kind of place. How scientific can I be if I don’t know possum poop when I see it?

   I would like to know though, what sort of school one attends to learn to distinguish possum “scat” from that of the neighbor’s wandering cat, a rabbit or a squirrel?

   To play possum is to feign death.  You can’t spell that one with an o.

   A possum is “any of various small to medium-sized, nocturnal, chiefly arboreal marsupial mammals (especially families Phalangeridae, Pseudocheirdae and Petauridae) of Australia and New Guinea that have thick, soft fur, a prehensile tail and a rounded head with protruding eyes that are mainly herbivorous,” according to Merriam-Webster.

   My back yard is an herbivore’s delight. But we don’t cotton to possums on our property. This possum was a squatter in more ways than one. 

   Besides, I’m doing the best I can here, navigating quarantine, working from home, trying to stay healthy mentally and physically.

   I don’t need possums leaving little editorial comments where visitors can see them, highly trained scat-sighting visitors anyway.

   My first possum-removal thought is to be confrontational. “Lookie here junior…I got a crock pot.  Fix you right up. Better get on way from round here…” 

   (Having obtained license from Merriam-Webster I’ve begun chopping the first syllable of lots of words. Feels good!)

   Second thought, I have no idea what this critter might be capable of. Remember the “prehensile tail?” Prehensile means the animal can grasp things with its tail.  Better not pick a fight with any ninja tail-wielding marsupials.

   A FEMA guy once told me that “rivers go where rivers will.” I guess possums are like that too.

   Nothing can reduce me to helpless giggling like “The Beverly Hillbillies.” If you think less of me now because you know that, so be it.

   Today in my research for this post I became reacquainted with their “Possum Day” episode. Granny plans to run for Possum Queen. Along with the honor of reigning over the Possum Day parade, the winner gets her weight in possums.

   Further research took me to a children’s song called “Possum Pot Pie.” Now why couldn’t I have thought of that?

   A sample lyric, “A possum is vicious when eaten alive but he’s gentle and kind when he’s dead. His tail is delicious when battered and fried and his brains are quite tasty on bread.” 

    But seriously, do people really eat possums?

   Two items I found are clearly tongue-in-cheek.  On I saw an orange can of “creamed possum” clearly labelled as “gag gift only, not edible.”

   Not too much gaggier than creamed possum. 

   On you get “The Possum Cookbook” which includes a recipe for Possum Pot Pie and items such as Cajun Possum Chili, Possum Tartare and Wild Possum Kabob. This too was a joke.

   I turned to my crack research assistant Alexa Myers (Alexa said she does not have a last name, so I provided her the name Myers).

   Asked for a possum recipe, she said, “Sorry, I don’t have a recipe for that.”

   Then again we have word from no less an authority than Jed Clampett, who said, “That’s the thing about possum innards, they’s just as good the second day.”

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