An old memory on the subject of 'possums and how our perceptions grow as we grow older. We have not entertained a cat at our house for almost six years now, and have decided that life without a cat is not so bad. Therefore, 'possums never come to the door looking for a meal. I'm sure they're out there, but they are not OUR 'possums.
When I was eight, I used to walk every Wednesday after school to Mrs. Mellie Sims Lecky’s house for my piano lesson. She lived right at the edge of that area of town where the colored folk lived (remember, this was 1944). I remember being amazed once when a black man came to the front porch, and “Miss Lecky” went out and talked to him for some time. She actually called him by name and everything. I was really impressed. When I was eight, I didn’t know that you could tell black people apart.
When I’d grown up and started reading Jane Goodall’s work, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to find that each of the chimps she spent so much time with was easily recognizable after you had looked at their pictures for awhile. They were not all cast in the same mold, as I had previously thought. They had their own faces and personalities, and each had a name.
Now we have, for some time, been visited in the early evening by a number of ‘possums, who take turns coming to the back door to eat the cat food that the cats almost never completely finish. Who woulda thought it, but as an old guy I find that ‘possums not only can be distinguished by size and color, but each has its own unique, expressive face. They don’t all look alike. We always know which ‘possum (or sometimes two or more) is paying us a call.
Last Saturday, as we were heading toward Austin, we saw a large beige colored ‘possum lying dead in the road. My wife immediately announced that it was not OUR big beige ‘possum. Then she went on to say that we should name our visitors. My response was that since we only name our cats because the vet needs a name for his records, why would we name ‘possums? But the more I think about it, the more attractive seems the idea. We have come to know these animals. If we call them by name, it will be a lot easier to talk about them, and keep track of who’s come around the most, who seems to have moved on, or when a newcomer drops in.
I’ve decided to start taking a closer look at the minnows in our garden pool.