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.

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Within Reason 2: A Conservative Opinion

Tulips

Tulips (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New England, and anywhere, where the seasons change, is a place which offers a microcosm of life in general. The lessons learned in this climate, are quite valuable to those who recognize them.

Again, my conservative leaning is influenced by Nature. My own opinion of  liberalism is that it is weighed down by a too generous amount of emotion and ,in their extremes, both liberals and conservatives are inhibited by their own opinions that they somehow know exactly what is correct. Knowing everything definitely puts a hitch in the listening and learning and the solving process, no matter who you are.

When we consider a surgeon for a delicate corrective surgery. We do hope that he/she cares about the patient but I would have a great deal more faith in one who was cautious and analytical than one who was moved to tears at the sight of blood or the anticipation of pain. Some people might translate the surgeon’s calm as evidence that he/she didn’t care but calmness and forethought are necessary for success and the assumption that the finely tuned surgeon doesn’t care has no merit. Also, as much as anyone wants the operation to be over and the healing to begin, no individual wants the surgeon rushing through the procedure.

In New England, we learn how quickly change happens. The New England gardener/ farmer has to plan ahead because they’ve suffered every time they have gotten caught up in one season to the point of not preparing for the next.

Do overs just don’t work as well as preplanned, especially in Nature.

I noticed some lovely outdoor tulip pots at a local supermarket, a few days ago. They contained forced tulips for the gardeners who hoped to have a lovely spring garden but did not plant bulbs the previous Fall. I remember the Fall assortment that was passed by while folks were planning for Halloween. Those who did buy the bulbs are now casually passing by those forced tulips with a confidence that their garden has the better chance of success. The people buying up the potted tulips want a tulip garden, just as much, as the bulb planters but the forced tulips are counting on events beyond anyone’s control for their success. The weather must warm, the plants must adapt and the ground must soften. Timing is critical to the success of this year’s tulip garden for the unprepared. I want everyone to have gardening success and I’ll bet the gardeners with the potted tulips will be unhappy if things don’t work out. Personal responsibility is owned by those bulb planters and cry, as the late gardeners may, many won’t understand that they had had other choices.

Wanting success is everyone’s goal but setting ourselves up for success takes a calm, analytical approach and the firm belief that just wanting something does not outweigh the power of figuring out how best to get it.

Racing with Babies

Think you’re fast? I once held the Jr. High girls record for the 50 yard dash. I am 55 years old now but inside, I haven’t aged. My outside, doesn’t care though.

Toddlers are faster than racehorses out of the starting gate. A hard thing  for we adults, with an athletic inner self, to believe. Try this experiment before you supervise toddlers. In the middle of a playground, kick a ball away from a 20 month old and then try to get your hands on him as he pursues the ball. Of course, allow them two steps for the normal delay when distracted.  Repeat this experiment until you can grab them in under one second.

Ha! It’s impossible!

I wouldn’t have bet against myself. How hard could that be?

Yikes!  Several seconds too many to save them in a parking lot or driveway. Yup, don’t ever underestimate a toddler’s power to evade capture especially in a “high octane” situation.

You want to know a pet peeve of mine? Parents who think the “I’m gonna get you game.” is funny.

Some of my day care toddlers think that diaper changing is an invitation to a foot race. Even in the house, it takes a long time to corner them.
THAT is something I won’t allow. Voice control can save a child’s life. My “racers” are given no second chance to come. I pick them up in an unfriendly manner and make them mind when I ask them to come. I offer no tolerance and always enforce that one rule. Their life may likely depend on it.

So take this as a warning. Especially Dads and Grandparents who are more likely to underestimate toddlers, try my experiment and pretend that you are in a parking lot. It just may scare the “bejeezus” out of you!

(I believe that my experiment should be a MUST for teens in babysitting training!)

Safety and Caring

It’s a wonder how some people make it to old age with their reckless behavior.

I come from a long line…a safety conscious family. I find myself warning my “kids” constantly of possible danger. During the infamous October 4th snowstorm, my mom called me. She had thought about the danger of my chain link fence becoming electrified if a downed power line touched it. That remained on my mind since and I told my daughter about it during hurricane Irene.

My grandfather rode with me shortly after I had received my driver’s license. I still remember his comment about my driving being very good. “You stay near the center line. That’s good. It keeps the other drivers on their own side and gives you room to get out-of-the-way if needed.”

When Katherine started riding her 4-wheeler, we told her what to do IF her brakes failed. The advice was; “Run into a tree, ditch, car or building as quickly as you can before your quad picks up speed.” The worst case scenario is always not knowing what to do in a bad case scenario.

When I used to go to day care meetings, after dark, I’d ask another person to walk with me to my car. There was no lighting in that parking lot and it was in the middle of downtown. I was teased a few times for asking but I was safe and teasing is NOT a reason to let your guard down. I hope the folks who teased me are still OK. They really did not have good sense.

I have mentioned before that I have “safety bees” with all my kids. They love it. Next time that you get together with a group of kids, try throwing out some worst case scenarios and see how they might handle them. Fore warned IS forearmed!
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