Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Midnight Meeting

I keep thinking of things to blog about, and then I get busy. I have a lot of irons in the fire these days, but I need to get better about blogging more than once a week. Because I have a lot to share here and I hate when I forget and miss it. Like last night, for instance.

Last night I had occasion to be walking home from the bus stop just after midnight. Our neighborhood is well-lit and very quiet, and I was strolling along under the streetlights, bouncing my backpack, enjoying the soft silence around my steps crunching in the gravel. And then a dark shape streaked across the street, from one driveway into another.

"That wasn't a cat," I thought. I watched the place where the shape had gone, and guessed I knew what it was.

As I got closer, I saw that I was right. The opossum had climbed to the top of a low chain-link fence, and he was watching me approach. It felt like no one else around was awake, just him and me, and I felt drawn to him for a better look. I've never seen a live opossum up close. The driveway sloped down slightly, so that when I got to him, he was just above my eye level, his head turned back the way I had come.

I could've touched him - I didn't, of course, but I could have. I could see the fingerprint pattern in his thick rat-tail, the coarseness of his wiry fur, white and mussed. Then, slowly, he turned his head and looked at me. A drop fell from his nose as he fixed his eyes on mine. His face denied fear; he was not afraid of me. He just watched and waited to see what I would do.

For another long moment, I stood there in a stranger's driveway, one of my neighbors and yet a person I don't know, while this opossum and I shared a mutual acknowledgement. He looked old, but tough; he was a survivor. Before this moment, I'd only known opossums as dirty roadkill, but this guy was alive in a way that most of the animals I've encountered are not. He was wild, and he knew where he was going and what he'd do when he got there, and he was simply waiting for me to leave him to it.

So I did. With a respectful nod, I went on toward home. He watched me go, but when I was a few houses away, I looked back and he was gone.

1 comment:

  1. You are much more open to your wildlife friend than I would be. I see opossums every month or so; I swear, next to the mighty skunk, they are the #2 mascots of Silver Lake. I HATE them. HATE. I have come home three or four times to find at least one opossum HANGING OUT ON MY DOORSTEP. The first time this happened, I approached calmly, stride confident, making a good little bit of noise so as not to startle the fellow (or gal). You know, your typical, "hey, I see ya, how ya doing, I'd like to get into my house so if you could move along please that would be nice" kind of approach. I was rewarded with the animal standing its fucking ground and hissing at me. Hissing. I backed off slowly a few steps. The animal did not move, and hissed again. I took a step forward, and then so did she. Then I went and hid in my car for 10 minutes until I felt it was safe to try going in my house.