Curling with opossums

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Last Friday night, Laura and I went out for pizza with a couple of good friends. We were driving back home afterwards, north on Damen Avenue, when I thought I saw the silhouette of a small critter amble through the headlights of an oncoming car.

"I think there's a possum in the street up ahead," I said.

I slowed down, and as we got closer we saw that there was indeed an opossum in the middle of the street, just our side of a stop sign and crosswalk. It was walking in a slow circle, while cars alternately stopped and drove carefully around it.

"That poor possum," Laura said as we in turn drove past. "It looks scared. It's stuck in the middle of the street and doesn't know which way to go."

"Should we go back and help it?" I asked.

"I don't know. Yes."

So I swung us around the block, through an alley, and back onto Damen going south. As we approached the intersection again, we could see the opossum still waddling in a circle in the middle of the street. I pulled over and put on the flashers. Laura went to the trunk and retrieved our new snow shovel and windshield brush. Her parents had recently given them to us, and we'd had no opportunity yet to use them for their intended purpose.

Laura gave me the shovel and we headed toward the opossum. She held up a hand to stop traffic. On the west side of the street was a CVS with a big parking lot. On the east was a row of houses and small businesses. When the opossum came to a point in its circle where it was facing east, I put the shovel down beside it to force it to keep going in that direction. Laura kept the brush against its other side, and in that configuration we minced our way across the street. We must have looked like we were curling, with the opossum as our stone.

When we reached the curb, the opossum tried to turn again, but I kept the shovel firmly in place until it climbed up onto the sidewalk. We guided it across the sidewalk and through a wrought-iron fence into someone's yard, where it waddled off into the bushes.

Duty done, we dashed back to the car and stowed our gear. As we drove down the street, I could see that the opossum had left the yard and was now in the entry way of a business a couple of doors down. A pedestrian stopped to take a picture of it.

I sure hope that was the side of the street it wanted to be on.

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William Shunn

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on December 26, 2012 11:06 AM.

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