Last night while I was cooking chicken for our fajitas, seven year old Chloe, whom I have the pleasure of spending Monday and Wednesday afternoons with, squealed with a pointed finger, "Oh my gosh! There's a rat in your backyard!" In light of her past predilection for teasing, I didn't believe her cries. Besides, I reasoned to myself, we're way too sanitary to attract rats. But she persisted. Pointing and squaking. Until finally-- reluctantly--I walked over to the back window to see for myself.
And...sure enough. Some manner of grey-furred, large-eared, pink-tailed vermin was scampering about my vegetable garden. But a rat? I couldn't be certain. A mole, perhaps. That seemed less filthy, a more desirable pest than a rat. So I hopped on google and looked at pictures of both--rats and moles. My search did not yield satisfying results. None of the pictures I pulled up on the many, many gooooooooooogle pages was identical to the creature in my yard.
When Chloe's mom picked her up a while later, we told her all about the mysterious little critter, who had since disappeared. "Ew," she repulsed, "I totally would have freaked out. I can't believe you saw a rat in broad daylight; I thought they were nocturnal." Her observation furthered my skepticism of species. As we meandered to the front door to walk them out, I joked, "I hope he (the mysterious rodent) isn't in the front yard. Be careful walking out!" And then we opened the door and, (cue the eery music,) there were TWO UNIDENTIFIABLE RODENTS walking up my front path.
Some very silly feminine antics ensued before Chloe's mother came to her rational senses and said, "those aren't rats. Those are baby 'possums."
Sure enough, two little mother-less baby 'possums were wandering helplessly about our grounds. Chloe and her mom left and, unsure of proper 'possum protocol, I just shut the door and sort of hoped they'd go away.
One of them did. But the other little 'possum showed up in our backyard later that evening. And he didn't look so good. He was shaky and disoriented, quite obviously not going to make it. So Nate advised that Henry and I disappear while he "took care of it." I was pretty sure that by "take care of it" he meant put it out of it's misery, which sounded grusome, but maybe like a kinder alternative to a night of suffering and vulnerability to predators.
Poor li'l fella' was parched half to death. He lapped up a bunch of water. Then he licked up a serving of applesauce and smooshed banana the size of his hind quarters.
We put him in a shoe box full of rags and let him sleep under a warm lamp for a spell. Then we disagreed about where he should be allowed to lodge for the night. Nate voted for inside. I said, "no way. It's exactly the same temperature in the garage as it is in here." (We're enjoying that lovely week of weather wherein we have to use neither our heat or A/C to keep comfortable.) Finally, reluctantly, Nate swaddled the little refugee, who he'd become surprisingly fond of, and put him out in the garage.
As of this mornoing, he's still safe and sound in his little shoe box -- and he's had a bowel movement, which we read online was very important for little possums. So we feel good about our rescue efforts. However, the next item on today's agenda is to call an animal shelter to come take over his care because we're not 'possum people. Frankly, we're not pet people of any kind, but suffering little creatures (even the ugly ones) kind of tug at our heart strings.
And what a fun little memory this will be: the night we dined and lodged with a baby 'possum. And since I'm the editor in chief of our family history and can do things like this, I think I'll just leave out the part about me being inexplicably jumpy and a little bit sick to my stomach the whole time.