The Wood Chipper

WARNING: Contains scenes of suburban horror that may traumatise some readers.

The other day, someone knocked on my door.

Nosales

Thanks to the sign from my slightly paranoid electricity provider, I was pretty confident whoever it was must be looking for me, so I answered.

It was a tree lopping company, come to cut down my non-existent tree.

I immediately had flashbacks to what might have been the start of Evie’s porno career, but alas, this was not a ruse for desperate housewives!

Since they had the wrong address, I pointed them in the vague direction of the tree killers, and returned to my online activities, thus entering the first stage of grief known as Denial.

Twenty minutes later, the noise was getting out of hand. I go and take a glimpse out my kitchen window…

…and see not one, but TWO sources of suburban horror:

  • Strange man jumping over the fence into my back yard.
  • Bare blue sky in the space where my little possum friend ought to be asleep!

PossumGone

In a panic, I shuffle outside to murmur the blatant obvious:

“You cut down the tree…” (Bargaining)

Mr Tree Lopper glances up from his leaf gathering efforts, “Yeah, sorry.”

I can hear a noise from the street that sounds suspiciously like a hungry wood chipper, and try not to think what that might mean.

“But, there was a possum living in that tree…” (Bargaining)

“Oh, was there? We didn’t see anything…”

Mr Tree Lopper carries on with his leaf gathering efforts, not remotely uncomfortable about the fact he’s trespassing in my yard, or that his friend might have just committed possum murder.

I had no idea what else to say, so naturally, I went inside and messaged Ms. (Anger)

photo

And after that, put a sad status update on Facebook. (Depression)

Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 12.23.25 PM

And after that, placed a hex on my neighbours on Twitter. (Anger)

Screen shot 2014-06-03 at 12.24.10 PM

When Ms got home, she immediately climbed the fence to yell at the neighbours. (Anger)

But just as she started waving and ‘yoo hooing’ like a crazy person, we heard a rustle in the lemon tree nearby.

Sure enough, out popped a tiny Ringtail, totally unperturbed by the days events.

Possum

Could it be? (Bargaining)

Ms called the local wildlife experts and (after a friendly chat with the neighbour), we concluded that our possum may well have survived the wood chipper. (Denial)

I followed this up with some internet research, and learned some interesting facts:

  • The timid, herbivorous marsupials have a territory radius of about 50m, in which a Daddy and one or two Mummy ringtails, along with their recent offspring, coexist in Big Love bliss.
  • Ringtails tend to sleep solitary and frequently bed hop, having up to 8 nests in their territory.

Considering the neighbour recently moved in with a dog who is suffering separation anxiety, it’s more than likely our little possum moved beds to get a decent sleep. (Denial)

At any rate, that’s the story I’m telling everyone because (considering my utter failure to defend the rights of my tree dwelling friends) the alternative is too horrific.

Have you ever saved, or tried to save, or failed to save, a creature from harm?

Possum Tales

Change, for me, is always slow. Before it arrives, I’m already there in my mind, just waiting for the physical components to slide into place.

When I came to this happy little hovel by the sea, it was like stepping into a well worn slipper.

Common Ringtail Possum

Common Ringtail Possum by David Cook

The oasis, marking with finality an end to years of complicated share house living, long past due.

I didn’t care about the shabby paint job, or the brown brick walls, or the fact that my neighbours could stare straight through my kitchen, into my living room, and out the other side.

It was my home. Where I could be myself, with the only other person on the planet who’s ever seen what that really means. And asked to stay.

Six years on, why am I so restless?

I’d like to blame it on the screaming single mum, and the fact her kids have finally found their voices, too.

Or the retiree who, bless his knee-high cotton socks, still manages to get excessive joy from pruning the wildlife out of the trees.

Or the fact my house is now bursting with skerricks of unfinished things – ointments and clothes and discarded trains of thought.

“This place is too small!” It screams, everywhere I look.

But that’s just an excuse.

Recently, during a rare afternoon spent cleaning up my garden, I heard rustling.

High up above, from within a thorny hideaway, I glimpsed a gleaming bit of tail.

Possum Tail

My little Ringtail Possum has moved house!

That evening, I placed a pear on the fence by Lady Possum Tail’s home. A goodwill offering to the gods.

She took a bite, and hurled it at the ground, I discovered the next day. Shame on me, for insulting her sense of self determination!

A few nights later, when I was washing up the dishes, I spotted her sitting on the fence. A little garden sentry, looking at me, looking at her.

And I realised, it’s not the neighbours, or the house. It’s me.

This home was only ever a holding pattern. A place to go underground a while, to find strength to face the world again, on my own terms.

In her ever gentle way, Lady Possum Tail came to tell me. It is time.

What’s the longest you have stayed in one spot?