Posted tagged ‘opossums’

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”

May 7, 2015

We have had such beautiful days, warm days, short-sleeve shirt days. The sun is even so bright it makes me squint. By the afternoon the sun has made its way around the house to the back so I go and sit on the deck to take in the warmth. Gracie stands beside my chair and watches the birds until she gets sleepy and lies down for a nap in the sun.

Yesterday I was sitting at a red light when I noticed a hawk high above me riding the thermals in ever smaller circles. I got lost in the hawk, and it took a honk from the driver behind me to bring me back to the now green light.

I have seen foxes, rabbits, coyotes, wild turkeys, deer, skunks, opossums and the common raccoon around here where I live. Actually it was only one deer which ran across the road in front of my car just down the street from my house. I pulled over to watch until it disappeared near the power lines.

I don’t remember seeing many animals when I was a kid even though we spent a lot of time roaming the woods. I remember snakes the most. They seemed to be everywhere. They were, for the most part, garter snakes. We’d pick them up just to check them out, but we never hurt them and we always let them go. They’d slither so fast when freed they seemed to disappear. I can’t remember the last time I saw a snake around here.

I liked scary when I was a kid. I don’t mean afraid. I never wanted to be afraid. Scary was mostly a product of my imagination when I heard footsteps behind me or that hook scratching the screen. Scary made me giggle a little, a sort of defensive reaction to prove I wasn’t really scared. Once, when I was an adult, my dog Maggie, another boxer, woke me from a sound sleep when she leapt out of bed, stood at the top of the stairs and barked her fiercest bark several times but then she just turned around, jumped back on the bed and went to sleep. I wasn’t as fortunate as it took me a while to calm down enough to go back to sleep. I wasn’t sure what to think about Maggie’s barking. Maybe she had a nightmare was one thought, but I didn’t really think so because she usually just sort of barked in her sleep when she was dreaming. I really believed she heard something, something loud enough to put her on alert. Whatever it was left because of Maggie’s deep, fierce barking. She was my protector, and I was really glad to have her. Gracie has that role now, and she is great at her job.

“Clearly, animals know more than we think, and think a great deal more than we know.”

September 5, 2014

The heat is still here and today it will again be coupled with humidity. It is the third keep the air conditioner running day this week. I am beginning to feel like a hermit behind locked doors and closed windows. Gracie is content sleeping in her crate. I can hear her snores all the way from the kitchen down the long hall. Boxers are wonderful dogs, but they do snore loudly and some drool, like Gracie when she wants what I’m eating. Sometimes she even has bubbles.

The red spawn of Satan has been hosed twice already this morning. The second time he took off into the next yard, but I don’t trust the sneaky spawn. He’ll come back thinking I won’t notice. I will and it will drive me crazy. That rodent is pushing me closer and closer to buying a have-a heart-trap for spawns which is sort of odd as I have nothing but contempt for them. I figure I’ll catch the beastie and relocate it far, far away from here. Good luck finding your way back to my bird feeders, spawn of Satan.

When I was young, I loved going with my family to the Boston Public Garden. We’d ride the swan boats and walk around to see the flower gardens. In the pond there were always ducks waiting for a handout and gray spawns romped all over the grass. I even fed them a few times, but what did I know? I was a kid.

I don’t remember a whole lot of wildlife romping around my neighborhood when I was growing up. Even on the other of the tall grass, where there was a bit of woods and the swamp, there were no critters, but here on the cape, in my yard and on the street, I have seen opossums, raccoons, skunks, wild turkeys, chipmunks, rabbits, foxes and coyotes and for a couple of years pheasants used my front yard as a shortcut to the next street. Gracie usually lets me know if we have company. She has been sprayed by a skunk, has run around the yard with a baby gray spawn in her mouth which I had to save and did the same thing with the adult possum who even convinced me it was dead. I watched her go in circles around a tree chasing a mouse doing the same thing just ahead of her. I collared Gracie and saved the mouse. Another time I had save Gracie from the giant raccoon she had cornered on the deck. She wasn’t happy with me. When Gracie barks and jumps on the front screen door, I know she’s seen something. I always check. Sometimes it is just a dog being walked or the cat who saunters on my neighbor’s lawn. That drives Gracie the craziest even though she lives with two cats. She barely notices the wild turkeys. I guess she thinks they’re humdrum.

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!!”

January 17, 2013

Yesterday it poured all day, but off-Cape had snow so I’m not complaining. Miss Gracie and I did a dump run, and I didn’t even bother to change out of my flannel pants and sweat shirt. The dump was pretty empty in the rain.

The mouse count is now 14. Two got caught yesterday: one in the plastic trap and one in the have-a-heart. I have a story. The one in the plastic trap was making so much noise scratching and banging that it woke me up. I wanted to sleep in peace so I decided, despite the dark and the rain, to take it outside. I walked across the street, my usual deportation spot, and was about to open the trap when I heard, “Hello.” I just about jumped out of my skin. I turned around and all I saw was a light, not a flashlight but a bigger light. “Who is it?” I asked. “Billy,” was the answer. It was my neighbor carrying the light, an umbrella and a huge cup of steaming coffee. He was walking Cody, his dog. I asked the time. It was six o’clock. He wanted to know why I was in the rain, in the dark at six o’clock. I told him about my mice. He said he was sorry.

When I was a kid, I never did see much wildlife where I lived, maybe a skunk or two but that was about it. We saw cows at the farm and animals at the zoo but nothing exciting in the woods. Here on the Cape I’ve seen deer, rabbits, foxes, wild turkeys, coyotes and the common skunks, raccoons and ugly opossums, though that last one is redundant. I didn’t mention the spawns on purpose. The coyotes are common but usually at night or early morning. I used to see them on my way to work. They all looked healthy. I know one is around here when the rabbits disappear and when I can hear the horrible screams of the prey when the coyotes hunt. I never worried about Gracie as she is too big to interest a coyote. A friend once saw a coyote dragging her small dog by its hind quarters trying to take it. The dog was crying and scratching the ground in an attempt to get some traction to run. My friend saved her dog who only had a few bite marks. Another friend’s dog, another small dog, was attached to an overhead line in the backyard. The coyote grabbed the dog in its mouth and ran. When they got to the end of the line, the dog popped right out of the coyote’s mouth and was saved. The wild turkeys are the most fun to watch. They travel in fairly large groups, fluff their tail feathers as they run and make all sorts of noises. They’re now pretty common, but the first time I saw them I stopped my car to watch.

Wild turkeys can fly unlike the ones on WKRP in Cincinnati, a program I used to love. I’ll never forget the program entitled Turkeys Away. In a Thanksgiving promotion the station decided to give away turkeys and to drop them from a helicopter.

“It’s a helicopter, and it’s coming this way. It’s flying something behind it, I can’t quite make it out, it’s a large banner and it says, uh – Happy… Thaaaaanksss… giving! … From … W … K … R… P!! No parachutes yet. Can’t be skydivers… I can’t tell just yet what they are, but – Oh my God, Johnny, they’re turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they’re plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, the humanity! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Not since the Hindenburg tragedy has there been anything like this!”