A True Story and Real Life Dilemma

oppossum

The following is a true story. By the time this is posted, I will have added a photo. For now, the story is more important:

Early in our camping experience last summer, my granddaughter and I heard my Jack Russell Terrier barking and came upon a baby opossum peeking out from behind our generator bin. It was frightened and clearly a bit young to be wandering around on its own.
I called the dog off and she scampered out of sight. (I say “she” because Nature makes females a bit more sturdy and independent early on. I will never know her true gender but my guess is an educated one.)
She appeared once more that day around our log splitter. This uncharacteristic sighting made me snap a photo and assume “something” had happened to her mother. When I told my husband, he said he had seen a dead baby opossum in the nearby bushes, the day before. Seems my “guess” had more legitimacy after that.
It was Sunday, and we were hours from leaving for home. I had learned from other lessons of interfering with Nature, that my human instinct to “get involved” was not always wise for either the wild animal or for my heart. I felt I just HAD to give her a chance. She had survived, so far, and although I could not take responsibility for her, I didn’t have to all-together turn my back.
Just before I left, I took a large handful of dry dog food and piled it, undercover, near the generator bin. With a heavy heart, I went home.
The next week, the dog food and opossum were gone.
I thought of her often throughout the summer. I also accepted the “not knowing” of what happened to her a mixed blessing.
Around the middle of October, my dog came strutting back to my campsite with a prize catch. My heart sank! He had caught and killed a juvenile opossum. It was from under the place where I had, months before, left the dog food. Even this moment, my heart is racing and my stomach is turning at the telling of an “almost” triumphant tale.
I have little doubt that the opossum was the orphan I had met in June. She HAD survived but had not learned enough to continue to survive.
This winter’s harshness has made me consider her violent end a possible blessing against the option of freezing or starving. Without a mother, her instincts may not have well prepared her.
The moral of this story, that I hold on to, is that I HAD cared. That I HAD tried to help. I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have done more and that I really need to let go of the heart-sickening guilt I keep revisiting.
There would be those who would say, “You didn’t care or do enough.”
I would beg to differ.
The sick feeling in my stomach while writing this is still there.
I also had asked myself a number of questions. Here’s a few:
Can I find her in time?
Is her mother temporarily trapped in a dumpster and might she return?
How could I safely capture and transport her in the same car as my dog?
Would I really be offering her a better life by interfering?
Would my husband’s opinions on my decision matter?
Is there a law against bringing wild animals into a day care setting?
Would the Animal Hospital accept her?
How terrified would she be in all this?
Yes…I DID care deeply but I knew that caring didn’t give me the “right” to affect absolute changes nor did it protect me from possibly doing more harm than good.
I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I hope in telling this story, “little opossum’s”, AND my dilemma, speaks to you.
Don’t forget…I also may be wrong in my conclusion that every sighting of an opossum was the SAME opossum. And that my friends, is where hope lives.

Camping Notes 5/6/13

I realized that on Mondays, I am usually overflowing with camp observations. Thought I’d share some, now and then.

It was the first gorgeous weekend of the 2013 season. Temperatures that I would happily keep year round, 70s, by day, and upper 40s, by night.

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To the right, is our original site which my husband, Ed, had cleared and built. The whole area was thick forest when we began over 15 years ago. This is Ellen and Kory’s place now. (They weren’t here this weekend.)

We have a small Walmart sunken pond which is my first stop every weekend. It provides a wonderful vernal pool for amphibians. The visitors are fewer,so far, and  I have a good theory as to, why?

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010It has been recently dry and the spotted salamanders and wood frogs migrate farther during rainy weather. Only the green frog “locals” and one mature Red Spotted Newt are currently present. This is a first for my pond. This week promises some rain but I’m afraid that their egg laying, for this year, might be over. 😦

So off to check out my plum blossoms. Last year, I was alarmed by how few honeybees had tended to pollination. This year, I spotted a few but the numbers are still dismal compared to years past. I’m hoping that our chilly Spring has not yet awakened the masses.

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As the day progresses, I plan my garden. We have suffered for 4 years with a terrible fungus blight. This year, I plan to grow corn and I’ll be trying an above ground method for tomatoes using wooden skids.

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Ollie, my Jack Russell, is the happiest camper. He’s able to run loose and dig to his heart’s content. He is now 9 years old and requires more breaks in the sun. Of course, he has his own chair.

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Ed and I camp in an area that he prepared for our 5th-wheel. It is just below the old homestead and is our little piece of heaven.

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Ed keeps very busy. He gathers wood and splits it, as well as, maintaining the lawns and building wonderful stone flowerbeds. His four-wheeler has all that he needs. Yes, a rifle and a chainsaw are both necessary here. Actually, Ed had arrived the day before I came. Our gas grill had been knocked from our deck and one (empty) cooler was out in our yard. Our friends, with a game camera, have evidence of a large black bear in our area. Coyotes and a fisher have also been spotted. We leave no food or garbage out to entice them!

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I was pleased to see the first of Ellen’s tulips open. The daylight hours are shorter in the woods, so our campsite is a bit behind what we have at home.

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I was also happy to see some forget-me-not seeds had taken where I’d hoped they would fill in on a banking.

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I never fail to search our piece stone before we leave. It was quarried in Hudson, NY and has many seashell fossils from a time when New York was an ocean floor. I have always loved rocks! I’m thrilled to look for fossils and, sad that so many were ground up, too. I guess I would have never had the chance to find them if that had not happened.

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So there you have a glimpse of the “good life” I find in the forest. I also had time to read in a lovely shaded area beside my dog.

Further updates will show my flower beds and garden. See you later!

When I'm Happiest

Warm and Cozy with Family

I am happiest when late Fall turns to winter at our camp.

My husband and I camp together with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in the addition my husband added to their camp. It contains a wood stove and we huddle together in our favorite place near a fire. There are few chores, since lawn mowing is no longer necessary, and much time for talking, playing games and drinking hot cocoa.

A light snow makes the event superb in our forest retreat!

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The Mouths of Babes.

If you are not aware of my love affair with watching my granddaughter grow…where have you been?

Katherine is one of the primary reasons for my blog and is therefore pictured at the top. Listening to kids has been my life’s work so when Kat came along, I was ready!

As seasoned as I am, Katherine “blows me away” with her innocent and insightful comments. She has taught me that I,did indeed, find the career best suited for me and that observing kids is never mundane.

My daughter, son-in-law and Katherine spend weekends camping with us. (We have trailers, generator power and DVD players…hardly roughing it.) Katherine and I are privileged to early morning, quiet, one to one times. Her Pepe and parents are not the cheerful.wide awake, risers as we. During our morning chats we pause to listen to and identify birds and discuss just about everything.

Just yesterday, she was sitting with me and watched her Pepe shaving and brushing his hair. She turned to me and said,” Awwwww! That’s so nice!”

“What’s so nice Katherine?”

“He does love you so much that he gets up and makes himself handsome, just for you Grandma.”

I hadn’t thought about his routine, in that way, for years. Thank-you to Katherine who made Pepe and Grandma look at each other with a twinkle in their eyes.

Later the same morning, we all went out to breakfast. Kat sat between her grandparents facing her parents. After the waitress brought our coffees Kat poked me and chuckled. “Look Grandma…Ed made an eddy.”

My daughter asked what was so funny. I explained that Kat saw her Pepe (Edward) stir up a whirlpool in his coffee. “Kat and I know that an eddy is another name for a whirlpool.” We gave each other a high-five as her mother said,  ” I will not let them skip her to first grade.”

Sounds in the Night

I have a habit of listening to things. It has made me a “super spy” around the day care since I can tell what the kids are up to with my ears. Silence is the biggest alarm for naughty behavior! Someone has the baby powder behind my living room chair or, in one case, my dog was getting a make over with toothpaste. Listening is a skill that many people lose as they busy themselves about adulthood.

The best listening place is in the forest. I teach my kids to identify birds by their songs. Many years ago, a day care mom stopped me in the grocery store. She said the grandmother of her tots was taking them for a walk and they stopped frequently to comment on the unseen birds. “I hear Mr. Bluejay!” said her youngest. The grandmother knew immediately where that kind of observation had come from. It was so wonderful that the mother let me know the influence I had had.

I’ve become pretty good at sound identifications so therefore this story just may carry a bit more credibility to the reader.

We (my family) and I used to camp at a local ski resort during the summer. The wooded hills and wild areas were plenty there. One evening we were sitting out after dark and heard the strangest “animal sound”. A trilling growl is the closest I can describe it. With that sound came an occasional rustling in the shadows. It went on for about half an hour and was quite unsettling. We knew the sounds of black bears and moose neither applied. I wondered if it was a bobcat. It could have been. Cat was my guess!

A day later, I was home busying myself with supper as my husband watched Animal Planet. I literally dropped a dish in the sink and ran to the TV. That sound! The identical”mystery” sound was playing and it was the sound a cougar makes to keep her young close to her after dark. I watched the remainder of the segment in awe. The fact that I was not watching ,in the first place, made me trust my ears even more. My husband agreed that the sound seemed right to him also. We did not hear it again but since that time I have believed that we had a close encounter with a cougar. (We heard no bobcats at all that season.) My research said that cougars of the Northeastern US were extinct. Environmental police cannot know everything. I have still held on to my belief that cougars DO exist in this area. Yesterday, I found this article online:

Mountain Lion Loose In Greenwich, Conn.

Updated: Thursday, 09 Jun 2011, 8:36 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 09 Jun 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

GREENWICH, Conn. – Connecticut environmental officials say it appears the big cat that has been spotted roaming the town of Greenwich is a mountain lion.

Department of Environmental Protection officials are basing that conclusion on paw prints and a blurry photo of the animal.

Mountain lions have been declared extinct in this part of the country, but DEP officials say this could be an animal that has been released or escaped from a local handler.

Police say there have been three sightings of the large cat in the last week, the latest on Sunday near the Brunswick School.

A charity walk scheduled at the prep school for the weekend has been moved because of concern for the safety of participants.

Copyright Associated Press, Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

I’ll be watching for an update to this story…you know what I believe….

Just yesterday…

Saturday evening Katherine and her mom, Ellen, stayed over at our campsite. (Ellen is my daughter.)

She and her Pepe’ built a great campfire.

The BEST campfire ever!

Katherine calls her strength “campin’ muscles”.

Campin' muscles.

The next morning, Katherine and I got up first. I had coffee, she had hot chocolate. We sat outdoors,in the woods, enjoying the early morning sun. The birds were singing and we also heard crickets. It was a beautiful sharing time for us both!

The very next morning, Katherine came to my house for day care. She asked for a hot chocolate in the very same kind of cup that she had used Sunday in the woods.

As she was sipping, she looked at me with a twinkle in her eye, “Grandma? Remember when we sat in the forest, listened to the birds and enjoyed the morning?”

” Yes, Katherine, I really enjoyed that too!”

She sipped a little more then looked at me. She gave a deep sigh and dreamily said,” Those were the days.”

I guess her “old” days are in creation. Reflecting upon them means thinking of just yesterday. 🙂

Memories in the making.

Zabby Eight Update 7/21/10

Katherine just returned from a weekend at her Papa’s campground.

Seems she had a great time and spent most of it in the pool.

“Did you wear your life-jacket Katherine?”

“Yes, but I took it off and swam to Mommy a few times!”

“Hurray! Was Zabby there?”

“Yes, she didn’t need a life-preserver though. Imaginary friends can just walk in pools. Their legs stretch out when the water gets deeper.”

“What happens when she leaves the pool?”

“Her legs snap all the way back.”

“Did Alodda go swimming?”

“I don’t know, she stayed with you.”

“So, that is why my bed felt crowded last weekend?”

Soon after that discussion, Kat asked me to take her to the bathroom.

“I’m still afraid of spiders!’, she said.

This arachnophobia is trying my patience.

“Katherine, take Zabby Eight with you. I heard that she can scare spiders away. She’s very good at it too.”

“Grandma…she is NOT a professional!”

Yikes! I was out smarted again…change the subject…

“So,where has Arthur Eight been?”

“He’s STILL at school.”

“I hope he’s studying to become a professional Spider Tamer.”