Subourbon Mom

Playing Opossum (Beware: sensitive content)
January 28, 2021, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Country Living, Misc. Humor | Tags: , , ,
Peaceful, country living….what I thought it would be all the time.

Some of you may remember my old blog post about trying to humanely euthanize a chipmunk.  Well, apparently that’s a life lesson that I’m not getting right because it keeps happening. First it was a baby rabbit, then the chipmunk, and now an opossum.

But first let me tell you, my city-dwelling and suburban friends, there are a few things you have to get used to when you move out to the country:

  1. The number of guns casually (or purposefully) left by front and back doors
  2. The volume of sound that woodland insects and frogs produce from March to November; whoever called it “night music” clearly never tried to sleep with their windows open
  3. The number of leaves that drop in the fall – sometimes it can be mesmerizing, like falling, brown snow; then you remember you have to shove them all back into the woods where they belong, like the arborial warrior you are.
  4. Snuffling and coughing from those pesky Virginia allergies because you simply must enjoy hours of amazing bonfires (and because some HOA said we couldn’t have them for 15 years so, dammit, we’re burning every weekend)
  5. The number of critters that don’t care that you would prefer that they stay away from your precious piece of land: bugs, “nope-ropes,” (snakes), mice, trash pandas and coyotes, just to name a few.

Which brings me back to numbers one and five in the list, and the opossum.

One day this fall, I was watching the dogs bark at something in the woodpile.  I figured it was a nope-rope because Lily the Terrified has been bitten at least four times. Honestly, I was just happy she was outside. For weeks she and her sister Holly, Opener of Packages, had been staying inside because Lily was scared of falling acorns. 

Back to the woodpile.  

An hour later, I was pulling the car out of the garage when I noticed something lying in our gravel driveway.  It was an adult opossum. The poor thing had been eviscerated but was still breathing. This was beyond just “playing possum” – the end was obviously near.  

After I got done cussing the dogs out, who were standing by waiting for praise after their conquest, I ran through my options:

  1. Go back inside and make dinner without using butter or anything else from my list (not an option – I would never be able to leave an animal suffering out there like that);
  2. Run over the poor beastie with the car (not a chance – it was facing the wrong way, and that would have been even more cruel);
  3. Put it in the freezer like I did with the chipmunk and let it pass away quietly, but who knows how long that would take and I didn’t want Hubby making fake opossum calls to me saying it’s “C-c-cold” again; or,
  4. Whack it with the shovel and throw the body in the woods.  

I opted for the shovel.

I’ll spare you the details, but it took more than one whack for the job to be over.  I’m the world’s worst executioner.  For the record, I said a prayer, apologized and told the opossum I was just trying to make things end faster.  

Later, I called a friend who lives a few miles down the road and told her the story.  She asked, “Did you shoot it?”

Um, no…. because I don’t own a gun.  Even if I did, with my luck I’m pretty sure the bullet would ricochet off the gravel and into me.

Talk about roadkill.

So there you have it folks – before you make the brave move out into the wilderness, life will be different. But for so many reasons, and not just for critter problems, buy a shovel. There are days when you’re going to have to dig your way out of whatever adventure came that day.

*Note: I purposefully didn’t post any cute pictures of opossums because it would make the story so much worse.   

You Can Take the Girl out of the Country…

This weekend I spent the afternoon being the “Parent on Premises” for Daughter #2 and her friends at our local fair.  Like lots of small county fairs, there were the usual pens of 4-H animals, sketchy carnival rides that I can’t even look at anymore without getting nauseous (ghosts of funnel cake past), pig races and truck and tractor pulls. The scents of kettle corn and fresh-cut grass immediately took me back to the years I spent in painted-on Jordache jeans, trolling the county fair for boys on whom I could practice (what would later become) my barfly stare; knotted bracelets transported me back to the tents where I would peruse cheap jewelry made from “real shark’s teeth,” and hair clips.

These days, the teenagers are still trolling, the jeans are still tight (only now they have a fashionable name for it—“Skinny Jeans”), and there are still booths selling cheesey jewelry. Not much may have changed, but I realize now how much I missed with my teenaged tunnel vision. There was an entire world of gut-churning, fist clenching tension and excitement out there that I never knew about.


The Truck Pull


If horse racing is the sport of kings, truck pulls are the farmer’s equivalent. For the first time, I paused long enough to watch the truck pull. Once I was standing on the hill looking at the red dirt track, I couldn’t walk away. There was something visceral about the growling engines as they forged ahead and made the earth rumble and shake under my feet, the same way the pounding of racehorses down the stretch gave me goose bumps. Even the run-up to each competitor’s attempt had its own tension, like horses entering the starting gate. Once the truck and weights were connected, there was a pause.

The driver gunned his engine.

Smoke billowed, and I could feel the pistons churning in my chest. Adrenaline shot through me, even though I was nothing more than a suburban mom trying to take pictures with her iPhone.  It made me want to run out to my Highlander and start 4-wheeling all over the parking lot.

But that wasn’t the only visceral experience I had that day. Late in the afternoon I caught the last bull riding competition. It wasn’t anything fancy like PBR that you see on t.v., but this tiny corner of extreme sports had its own atmosphere, complete with “I wanna be a cowboy, baby” by Kid Rock booming in the background. Mud flew into my camera as bull after bull exploded from the shoot.  I stood against the rail amid a crowd of cowboys, wanna-be cowboys, skanks, and yuppies walking around with the Jack Russell terriers on leashes—all cheering and secretly hoping for blood.

We waited, standing on tip-toes to get a better view as the riders got situated, and held our breaths when the rodeo crew swung open the gate. As the bulls exploded from the shoot, the crowd was silent until the cowboy fell into the mud.

IMG_1285The first rider fell off immediately and hobbled back to the gate clutching his groin.  It was already better than NASCAR—things were turning in more than one direction, the audience was constantly being sprayed with debris, and the riders were lucky to finish at all. No caution flag there.  I’d like to see Kyle Busch try sitting on top of a half-ton of twisting, bucking, hopping bull—I don’t think he’d be in any kind of shape to be picking so many fights on Pit Road if he did.

The second bull somehow got busy in the shoot and fell over, tangling himself in the rails. Although I could practically see the PETA people swiping their phones as they speed-dialed their lawyers, the bull was fine and hauled himself back up without help.  This was almost as good as the NFL—watching that bull get back up was like watching an offensive lineman get to his feet after a play—a lot of head shaking and swaying rump.

When the bull riding was over the crowd filtered away, off to gobble more funnel cakes, fried pickles and homemade ice cream.  I stayed by the ring and pried my hands from the rails.

I was tired, and invigorated at the same time.  I had a hard time going to sleep that night, even after a full day of sun.

I guess the old saying is true: you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. I may have spent the last twenty years away from country fairs and truck pulls, but the country didn’t stay away from me.

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