I thought, since my last two entries have been so deep, that I would let you all read something a little more light-hearted. As many of you know, my grandmother (MawMaw) wrote me letters when I was a baby. I did not receive these letters until after she died six years ago, but they were well worth the wait. They are beautiful and such a treasure to me! I thought I would share one of my favorites that always makes me laugh and I thought it perfectly fitting for this blisteringly hot summer day. It's actually an essay she wrote that she wanted to include in her letters to me. Enjoy! :-)
The Night of the Opossum
by Anne Tarlton
The beginning of summer packs a wallop in North Carolina. Just when you're beginning to feel really comfortable in the mild caressing spring weather -- bam! Summer's sitting on your chest and you can't breath for the heat and humidity.
That's the way it hit our family last June -- unprepared. No air conditioner, fan wouldn't work -- just the confounded heat, squatting right on top of us. Jim and I and the kids were trying to forget our discomforts by watching TV in the dark. It's just an illusion that darkness is cooler than light, but we were in the mood for self-hypnosis. Besides, we were sitting around in the living room in varying stages of nudity with all the windows open and shades up. If the lights had been on, we could have charged admission to see the show. I had on last year's baby doll pajamas, complete with a split up the back, Jim was in shorts (outside type) and nothing else, and the three kids wore either underwear or cutoff pajamas.
We were sitting there partially mesmerized by the summer reruns, when suddenly we heard Willie, the next door neighbor, calling from the sidewalk. "Hey James, did you know you had a possum sitting on your front lawn?"
All five of us spewed out the front door like the cereal shot from guns.
"Quick! Get the baseball bat!" shouted Jim.
"I have the broom!" I cried.
"How about a rake?" queried Dougie.
"Let me show it to my baby doll," lisped Patty.
"Wait for me!" drawled Tim. (He was going through a slow motion stage of development which antagonizes fathers and throws mothers into fits of gibbering and babbling.)
"There he goes, down toward the trash cans at the church!" shouted Willie, captain of the hunt. His wife Joyce was hard put to keep up, with the baby slung over one hip and the gravel of the driveway cutting into her bare feet.
Helter skelter the crazy procession ran, down the sidewalk and around the garbage cans at the side of the church.
"Get around on that side," urged Jim, as he deployed the troops to surround the enemy.
"Too late, Daddy, there he goes!" hollered Tim. And sure enough, the little rascal had scooted across the lawn and was high tailing it for the big pin oak tree at the border of the churchyard and our back lot.
"Somebody go back and get a flashlight so we can find him," Jim ordered, and Dougie rushed into the house and, wonder of wonders, rushed right back out with the flashlight. (Usually we can't ever find anything that quickly.)
There he was, on a limb at least fifty feet above our heads, staring at us with black beady eyes over a long pointed nose. Possums aren't renowned for their strong intellect, but this one had already received the message that he was supposed to do what all self respecting opossums do when in danger -- play possum. He sat, not moving, on the high limb.
From across the street the Smiths, who had been sitting on their porch, shouted, "Did you get him, James?" It seemed that the whole neighborhood had been apprised of our safari.
"No, not yet," replied Jim, "but if we throw some of those old red dirt clods we might dislodge him."
Everybody grabbed a supply of dirt clods and began throwing into the tree, almost straight up.
"Cut it out, Dougie! You hit me on the head with that one!" wailed Patty.
There we stood, tossing dirt clods up into the tree, when a voice came from a car which had stopped nearby.
"Everything all right around here?" That was the policeman who rode around the residential districts to make sure burglars or other criminals weren't at work.
"Oh, uh, yeah, everything's fine, officer," said Jim, and we all suddenly realized how stupid we were and began slinking back toward the house. Nobody wanted to get arrested for indecent exposure.
As we finally reached the door, Willie remarked, continuing on toward his house, "Well, at least we forgot the heat for a while."
We did forget, I guess, or maybe it went to our heads.