Vis­its from the wild an­i­mal de­part­ment

The Covington News - - OPINION - Paula Travis is a re­tired teacher from the New­ton County School Sys­tem. She can be reached at ptravis@cov­news.com.

My in­door cat is no longer with us. To make up for the loss, my hus­band has taken to invit­ing the out­door cat Ju­lianne, in af­ter din­ner to watch TV with him. We fed her on the back porch, and when she came in to watch TV, we did not shut the door from the out­side to the back porch, just the door from the in­side to the back porch. Then when it was time for Ju­lianne to go out­side, we shut and locked all the doors. Not any more. About 10 days ago, my hus­band and I awoke about 2 a.m. to a crash on the back porch.

He got up to in­ves­ti­gate. He couldn’t make the porch light come on and had to go to his truck for a flash­light. He care­fully shut both doors to the porch while he went to the truck and came back with a small pin light and a gun.

With the help of the pin light, he lo­cated a rather large pos­sum who had ap­par­ently come in to dine on cat food while Ju­lianne was watch­ing TV and who got trapped in the back porch when the cat was put out and all doors locked.

That pos­sum was over 18 inches long and very fat from his diet of cat food. He was hid­ing in the cor­ner of the porch next to the sil­ver cof­fin of a gas grill my hus­band in­stalled on the porch.

Still un­able to get the porch light to work, my hus­band com­manded that I hold the pin­light on the pos­sum while he aimed and shot it.

I do not in any way mean to den­i­grate my hus­band’s aim, but I had vi­sions of that gun go­ing off and hit­ting the sil­ver cof­fin and ric­o­chet­ing around the porch. Or vi­sions of the bul­let hit­ting the gas line and the cof­fin ex­plod­ing.

So I cow­ered be­hind my hus­band with my hand over his shoul­der that was not hold­ing the gun and closed my eyes. When I heard the shot, I scam­pered (if some­one my age can scam­per) into the kitchen.

He got that pos­sum with one shot.

It re­minded me of the long list of varmints we have had to deal with while liv­ing in that house. And, I re­mind you, we live only two blocks from the square.

The first one was in the house, not on the back porch, and hap­pened only a few weeks af­ter we had moved in.

I heard the dishes hit­ting each other in the kitchen. They were stacked in a drain. I did not have a dish­washer at that time. I woke my hus­band, and he care­fully and qui­etly went to the dresser and got a gun and crept into the kitchen.

But re­mem­ber we had only been in the house a few weeks, and he did not have the lay of the land in the dark. He promptly tripped over a stool and made way too much noise, both trip­ping and yelling. He stomped into the kitchen, turned on the light and saw noth­ing.

Grum­bling, he re­turned to bed, and when ev­ery­thing set­tled down and got quiet, I heard the rat­tling of dishes again. This time, he turned on all the lights and stomped into the kitchen. The cul­prit was a fly­ing squir­rel. My chim­neys don’t have dampers and some­times varmints fall down them.

My hus­band bat­tled that squir­rel with a broom and a trash can lid, just like a mod­ern Lancelot, for more than 45 min­utes be­fore he got it out of the house. What made him irate was the fact that our cat at the time just watched with in­ter­est and never of­fered to help.

In be­tween the first and last in­ci­dent, I have en­coun­tered at least two bats in­side the house. One of them ac­tu­ally hissed at me.

We have also heard or seen on our back porch at least one other pos­sum and two, at dif­fer­ent times, rac­coons. The pos­sum I saw dead on the street sev­eral days af­ter it vis­ited my porch. Of course, it may just have been a rel­a­tive of my vis­i­tor. The rac­coons my hus­band trapped and took to the coun­try.

I can do with­out any more sur­prises in the wild an­i­mal de­part­ment.

PAULA TRAVIS COLUM­NIST

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