Monday, May 4, 2009

Playing Possum

This time of year, I love being out on the deck, enjoying the eruption of color as the woods wake up once again. Mrs. Scampwalker was at a wingding this evening, so the kids and I spent some time potting some vegetables and flowers. While admiring our handiwork, I noticed how alive everything was -- simply verdant -- and all was good.

And then I smelled it. It negated all of the hope, possibility, and newness of the season. It was death. And it was near. In the wilds, while hunting, fishing, or hiking, I smell it fairly often... the telltale odor of something gone horribly wrong for some critter. Except this stench was five feet from my back door.

And then I saw it. It was all matted, spiky-haired, and smiling at me slyly, toothily... and very much dead. Possums are some of the ugliest creatures in the world even when they're alive. But when the biggest, ugliest, foulest possum you've ever seen decides to take a dirt nap squarely under your deck, you tend to redefine ugly. And smelly.

I'm the first to admit that I don't handle the stink of rotting flesh very well... at all. No one does, granted, but I'm a barfer. The bile was already in my throat, and I retreated indoors, with the pre-puke spits welling into the back of my mouth.

And then I remembered Hollywood. I can't name the movie, but some cop-drama stars wiped Mentholatum (or was it Vicks? No worry...) under their noses before inspecting a cadaver, which ostensibly drowned out the reek. My son and I would do this together (mostly because I still wasn't sure I could handle it).

I summoned J, and I showed him how to apply the Mentholatum properly (big globs, under each nostril). Tease me if you will, but we both donned semi-surgical-tea-towel-masks as well, assuming that whatever we were up against was much worse than H1N1.

After much scooping, gagging, poking, and facemask-adjusting, we cradled the bastard on a snowshovel and ingloriously threw him into the creek.

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