For a little change. I wrote this story for a then eight-year-old named Joshua, my grandson too briefly in the legal sense, yet forever, in my heart.
This is the true story of Blossom the ‘Possum. When she grew big enough to leave her mother and go out into the world on her own, the first thing Blossom did was to look for food.
It was night. Opossums prefer to stay awake at night and sleep during the day. It was rainy, too.
Blossom walked around the neighborhood. She sniffed at a garbage can, but it was tightly shut, so she could not eat the garbage. She found a few worms and ate them. She wandered around some more, looking, looking. Then her nose picked up a delicious smell! She followed the smell. Somebody had left a plastic garbage bag in the screened porch, and it was full!
But how could Blossom the ‘Possum get into the porch? It was all screened, and the door was shut. Blossom’s stomach was growling. Oh, there MUST be some way to get at all that tasty garbage! She walked in a circle all the way around the porch. The she climbed up the steps. What do you think she found? A HOLE in the screen. All she had to do was make it a little bigger and she could get in.
Quickly, she used her claws to enlarge the hole. Then she walked right up to that plastic garbage bag and used her claws again to tear it open.
It had so many good things to eat in it, like asparagus and broccoli scraps, and bits of moussaka and other Greek food, that it took Blossom a long time to finish stuffing herself.
“Now,” she said to herself, “Where shall I sleep? It is almost morning, and I must find a safe, warm place to sleep.” She squeezed back out the hole in the screen and walked around some more, sniffing and scratching the house.
And that is when she found a door with a very tall crack under it! She poked her nose under the door. Would her whole head fit under it? Yes! So Blossom flattened her body, scrunched under the door, and opened her eyes to look around.
She was underneath the house. She was standing on dirt, and above her was the floor. She walked along a water pipe and explored the place.
What was that fluffy pink stuff stuck to the floor above Blossom’s head? She poked at it and then tore at it with her claws. She made a big hole in it. Standing up on her hind legs, she looked into the hole. It led to a nice snug place between the floor and the pink stuffing that was stapled to it. It was a perfect bed. It was warm and soft and protected from the rain outside. It was safe. She could hide here and no other animals would ever find her.
Blossom climbed in, curled up in a ball, and after giving her whiskers a good look, snuggled down into the pink fluff to go to sleep.
Blossom had found a home. Every night she would get up and play with her friends and look for something to eat. Every morning, she would happily climb into her soft bed and there she would sleep all day long.
One night, Grandma and Demetrios were sitting in their den watching television. Suddenly, they heard a noise. Wham! Thunk! Blam!
“What was that?” asked Grandma. “Is a burglar trying to break into our house?”
“Maybe it is a ghost!” said Demetrios, but he was only teasing.
“It’s somebody moving around!” said Grandma. “Somebody’s out there!”
They listened again. Scratch, scratch, scratch, BUMP!
Demetrios grabbed his flashlight. “Let’s go have a look!”
So out into the rain they went. They looked in the shed. They didn’t see anything except the lawnmower. They looked around in the bushes. Nothing was there. They opened a little door that leads under the house and shined the flashlight around. “Oopst!” shouted Demetrios. “I saw something!”
“What did you see?” asked Grandma.
“I saw a long, thick, hairless tail disappearing into the dark! It is some kind of animal.”
“It has to be an opossum,” said Grandma. “That’s the only animal around here that has a tail like that.”
Next day, Grandma called up a very nice man who came and looked around under the house. “Yup,” he said, “Y’all sure enough do have yourselves a ‘possum. Look here, where it’s been a-diggin’. It’s done tore down a whole lot of your insulation, too. I’ll set a trap for it. I’ll just put some dog food in this here cage, ‘cause ‘possums love dog food. When that ‘possum gets inside to eat the food, the door will snap shut and we’ll have him.”
Next morning, Grandma got up early to check the trap. The door of the trap was still open, and there was no opossum inside. That night, she checked again, but still, there was no opossum. Every day for two weeks, Grandma checked her trap, but there was never any opossum inside it.
“Them roofers probably drove it away,” said the Nice Man. “All that hammering for three days straight while they was putting up your new roof. That ‘possum probably said to hisself, ‘Dang! No way to get a good day’s sleep in this place no more!’ It probably done took off. We’ll just leave the trap there anyway, for a couple more days, to be sure.”
The next afternoon, Grandma checked the trap again. The door was closed! Inside the cage was a gray ball of fur. It was moving up and down, up and down, as the animal breathed.
“Oh!” yelled Grandma.
The animal inside the cage was Blossom. She had been trapped in that cage for almost a whole day, and she was not happy. Slowly, she stood up. She turned around to look at Grandma. She opened her eyes halfway. Then she opened them all the way. They were black and bright and shiny.
“Oh, you poor thing!” said Grandma. “Your nose is all sore from trying to push the door open. Your claw is all sore from trying to scratch your way out. I will get you some more food, and some water, too!” So she ran back to the house to get the food and water for Blossom.
Then she called the Nice Man.
Pretty soon he came in his truck. He looked at Blossom. “Well, well, ain’t you a pretty little girl! I declare. We got ourselves a swamp ‘possum!” He explained to Grandma. “A swamp ‘possum is gray,” he said. “Regular ones is white. Don’t you worry none about her, ma’am. I’m gonna take her to a place she will just love.”
So the Nice Man cleaned the bottom of the cage by wiping it over the grass. Then he loaded the cage and Blossom into the back of his truck.
They drove for a long time, over an hour. Then the man stopped the truck and got the cage out. He set it on the ground.
“Now, sweetie,” he said to Blossom, “This here’s just the place for you. There’s fields of corn goin’ to be a-growin’ soon, and all kinds of other good crops, too. Over yonder’s a garbage dump. The swamp here is gonna have some ‘possum friends for you. And you’ll be much happier sleeping in a tree than under some house where you don’t belong, in fiberglass insulation that has got to have been irritating to you.”
He opened the cage.
Blossom looked around. She saw water and lots of tall green trees. She saw plenty of places to play and to hide and to sleep. She could already smell good things to eat; all she had to do was go find them.
“YES!” said Blossom to herself. And out of the cage she walked. “Finally I have found my true home! Finally I know where I belong!”
Just then, another opossum appeared. “What is your name?” Blossom asked him.
“Opie,” he said. “What’s yours?”
“Blossom. Oh, what a beautiful name,” said Opie. “And you are very beautiful, too. Come on, let’s play! I’ll show you everything around here.”
So off they went, and the Nice Man says he is sure they will live happily ever after.
This is a true story. Well, except for the part about opossums talking.