Garden Notes (9.22.08) –My 13-foot high tomato plants receive a nocturnal visitor …

from flickr-a possum at night

from flickr-a possum at night

2.15 AM this morning: I am taking a break from working on the new long narrative poem that I mentioned.

It’s a beautiful night –really, a blessing (which I have just defined to myself as “when things are so good, they could not be any better”. Actually –there are many “blessings” in our lives; I suppose we are more disposed and attentive to the “I’ve got a stone in my shoe” side of life probably because it requires us to take action so we can improve the situation.
My “blessing” of sitting in a beautiful garden at 2.15 am, required no action from me –just “recognition” and “enjoyment” which were easy to do.

Things were so good…they could not get any better?

Actually, they were just about to get….even better.

As I’m sitting in my chair, just generally gazing out at nature’s benificent profusion –with thoughts of “The Piano” just flitting across my brain– I suddenly become aware of a presence.

Down a row of tomatoes –now, by the way, approaching thirteen feet high, thanks to high-stakes, much sun, much rain, and adequate additional watering– I hear…something…approaching.
(I had earlier had an encounter with the Ineluctable Puss on the sidewalk outside, after a considerable period of absence, and I suppose I now was thinking it might be Puss returning. But, no….)

What hove into view was indeed an animal, and about Puss’s size, but this animal had a snout and a pointed head. And hair that was almost white and a bit on the straggly side (if you will forgive me an anthropocentric fashion note; we should bear in mind that this “straggly” hair might be just about as attractive to its colleagues).
It proceeded, cautious but purposeful, on its intended way –down to the bottom of the garden, pausing briefly on the way to sniff at a larger container in which I had just sown some sunflower seeds. It was something new that needed examining.

An Opossum! My word!

I had seen them in the neighborhood very occasionally –they are, after all, both nocturnal and very cautious. (I have a new term to try out –“anthropo-averse”. Does that work? Any improvements?)

My friend proceeds to the bottom of the garden. Hmmn! –that’s where my really big tomatoes are! Then I think: what can I do about it –IF true. He hasn’t eaten them all already; perhaps I can live with his obvious restraint. Perhaps we can share. And if they suddenly start disappearing, maybe I will lose my share-and-share-alike liberalism, and eat them all myself, like any self-respecting dog-in-the-manger retentive would do.

I have my flashlight, and my great little digital camera (Canon SD 1000, by the way) and think that –if I am patient and don’t scare him away– I might coax him out. And get a picture.

I stand there, quietly, for quite a while. I make a low intermittent 4-beep whistle that the birds seem to like. I repeat it, very quietly. Not scary, not threatening. I am consciously trying to connect with an assumed curiosity on its part.

And I am soon rewarded. It emerges from the bamboo and low runner bean bushes, and stands there, looking around, trying –it seemed– to locate the source of the whistle.
Meanwhile, the beam of my flashlight plays on its face. I get off two shots before I hear “Beep beep beep” –the Memory Card Full message! Damn. I stand in the dark garden hastily trying to select and erase enough picture space to get some more shots.
It retreats out of sight.

Damn it. I stand there resolving to be better prepared in future. Then –my resolution (however tenuous) is rewarded. I hear my friend make its way up the hedge at the side of the garden.
I am still whistling.
If I am right, and lucky, it will emerge not more than ten feet away…

And THERE it was, coming out from behind a large bush-bean container, and pausing just long enough for me to get a couple of shots –one of which was in pretty good focus.

As soon as I can figure out how to get them into my blog, I will post a pic of my new Opossum pal.

AND –my thirteen foot high tomato plant. So you can see that they really exist (No, I’m not lying to you.)
Of course you realize they will be 14 and 15 (and 16?) feet high by then.

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