TWLITB popped his head in the office door. “Mom?”
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing much. What are you doing?”
TWLITB said, “Remember a couple days ago when I told you I thought there was a skunk in the window well?”
“I think it’s still there.”
“Oh. Wow. O.k. we’ll take a look in the morning.”
Except I couldn’t just leave the poor skunk there for another night, now, could I? Because it had already been a couple days since the first time TWLITB mentioned that he thought a skunk was trapped, and if it was the same skunk, then the poor thing had been down there without water or food for far too long. I felt guilty for forgetting J.D.’s mention of the skunk when he first noticed it.
For those of you who might live someplace where foundations are not the norm, window wells are constructed when you have windows in your basement. Ours are about three feet deep. When an animal goes exploring and finds his way into one, it usually requires some help getting back out.
“Why are skunks so stupid?” my grumpy, guilty Chicken heart asked? “Because they just are. That’s why God gave them such odorific super powers; to make up for their tiny brains.”, my (equally tiny) Chicken brain answered.
I put on my coat, my gloves and my baseball hat (to protect against skunk odor and low-flying bats). I hunted down a working flashlight and tore the garage apart looking for a long enough piece of wood to form a ramp. Then I trudged out to the front of the house and flashed the beam into the well.
The good news was that there was no skunk in the well.
The bad news was that there was one very sorry looking possum down there. He looked up at me and I saw he was close to done. He probably thought my flashlight beam was his ticket to the other side. I slid the old shutter I had found into the window well to form a ramp. This had worked quite well the last time a skunk had been stuck there. The possum didn’t look healthy enough to make the climb, however.
I went back inside and looked up possums on the internet. Finally, something useful to look up. Not that the fang length of a baby vampire, or the relative amount of time it would take to walk to California aren’t useful things to know, it is just that the need to know these things was not as immediate as the need to find out how sharp the teeth might be of the animal stuck in our window well. Pretty sharp, as it turns out. Also, I learned that possums like fruit.
By this time, TWLITB, alerted to my nocturnal ramblings, had emerged once again from the basement. We discussed the situation and made a plan. We gathered a bowl, a bottle of water, a banana and some strawberries and then we went back out to visit our new pet, Pat. We weren’t sure whether we had a girl or boy possum but we are fond of alliteration and old SNL skits.
Our plan was to restore Pat’s strength so that he/she would be able to climb out of the well. First, we tossed in the bowl and then we poured water into it. Pat fell upon the bowl and shortly peered up at us as if to say, “May I ‘ave some more, please”? We laughed. Then we noticed the neighbors were out on their porch watching us, so we lowered our voices. We filled the bowl again, then tossed down the strawberries and banana in case Pat wanted to make a smoothie later. Then we went to bed. I’m assuming the neighbors did, too.
Pat was still there in the morning. I worried that the shutter was too short, making the angle too steep for Pat to climb. I had to leave for work, but I left TWLITB with instructions to keep Pat watered throughout the day and scout out a longer length of wood.
When I returned from work I put off checking on Pat. I had a glass of wine and waited for it to get dark. Mostly, I didn’t want BigB to catch on to our possum problem because BigB is not a fan of urban wildlife. I was afraid he would insist on calling animal control to remove Pat from the well and I didn’t spend the previous night restoring Pat just to see him exterminated. I also was a little worried that Pat didn’t make it through the night, in which case my problem would have become one of removing a dead possum from a window well, and then dealing with my guilt. I decided that if we had a dead possum, I would consult BigB immediately.
Live adorable possums, my jurisdiction. Gross dead possums, BigB’s jurisdiction. New rule.
I always get creative when I drink wine and so it wasn’t long before I had hatched another plan to free Pat (Get it? Hatched?). After dark I found a large basket with a handle, and some rope. I was trying to be very quiet so that BigB wouldn’t ask questions. I sneaked out through the front door with the basket, the rope and the flashlight. TWLITB heard me rustling around outside the window and came to help. We were arguing over what kind of knot to tie on the basket handle when BigB suddenly appeared around the side of the house.
“What are you two doing?” he asked?
TWLITB and I looked at each other.
“Decorating for Halloween?”, I replied.
TWLITB snorted, BigB stared at me, and Littleb showed up in the doorway.
The neighbors were back on the porch.
“Decorating with Possums. They are very Halloweeny, don’t you think?”
“There’s a possum in the window well, is that it?”
“And you’re trying to get it out?”
“Well. You wouldn’t want to have to drag a dead possum out of the window well, would you? That’s kind of the alternative.”
LittleB said, “I want to see the possum!”
TWLITB shined the flashlight into the well.
The possum was gone. Operation Free Pat was a success.
A cheer went up throughout the neighborhood.
In my mind.
BigB sighed heavily and went back in to watch the game. TWLITB retired to the basement. Littleb got on the computer to look up possums. The neighbors retreated, relieved that Chicken had saved the neighborhood from a dead possum outbreak.
I poured another glass of wine and basked in the glow of a job well done.
|Cute, right? And Halloweeny?|