Sunday, June 26, 2005

Possum Love

I imagine it was several years ago that the first possum crept into the crawl space under our house. Generation after generation has probably used our crawl space as a safe hiding spot, but it wasn't until this year that somebody decided to nest in there. Not only did the ole' girl decide to nest under our house, she decided to rip into the heat/air ductwork, climb into the center of it all, build a nest, and proceed to have a litter of babies. Possums are generally quiet folks, so we didn't realize they were under there, until one of the young ones (nearly full grown -- a teenager, I guess) had the poor manners to pass away. IN the ductwork. I repeat ... IN the ductwork, which created a most pungent notification of their presence. Sheesh.

We were fortunate that it was unseasonably cool that first weekend. We were able to cover the vents downstairs where the smell was worst, and open the windows. We got under the house, and during our poking around heard something large moving through the ductwork. Now, not knowing exactly what was causing the, um, aroma, much less what to do about it, or what to do about the invader, whatever it was, we called in several experts. Nobody believed me when I told them there were animals INSIDE the ductwork. Nobody. It didn't matter how explicit I was, they all assumed I was exagerating and the animals (and carcass) was just under the house. And every single expert we called out was shocked when they came by for a look and discovered that I wasn't kidding.

Anyway, very long story short, we ended up having to hire a varmint exterminator to come out and try to trap the animals and get rid of the "d.o.a. possum" (that's what it said on the invoice), and then get a heating/cooling company to come in and REPLACE the ductwork. Possums are not kind to man made structures, by the way; they had torn it up all through the downstairs system. What they hadn't torn up they had lived in, and possum babies are like human babies when it comes to the matter of continence. We were VERY fortunate that our insurance company covered possum damage, since the total cost of the job to date has been ... hold onto your seats ... $5900.00.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, we live in the deep south. There have been days when the temperature has been in the 90's, and the humidity ALSO in the 90's with barely a swish of a breeze. We were completely without air conditioning for 3 1/2 weeks. I did NO artwork during that time! Paper stuck to whatever surface you laid it against. My skin stuck to whatever surface I laid IT against. Misery. So, you see, the tale of possum love is my reason (or excuse, if you so choose) to be SO behind on the EDM challenges!

True story.

A couple of interesting possum facts:
Dead possums Smell Terrible.
Live possums Don't Smell That Great either (kind of like a mix of musk oil, old garbage and wet dog).
The average life expectancy of a possum is one year. (according to a friend of mine)
The average size of a possum litter is thirteen. (according to the wildlife extermination expert)
I used to think possums were kind of cute.
Now I don't.

By the way ... does ANYBODY ever actually say "Oppossum"??? I don't believe I've heard anyone anywhere call them anything but "Possums".

Posted by Hello


Kelley said...

Hey Linda,
Thanks for your nice comment on my blog.

And to address the possum...Too bad you don't live in the Deeper South, where the exterminator could have just brought them up to you and you could have made stew.

From one Southerner to another...glad those rascals are gone...and thank goodness for insurance.

Linda said...

Oh, I may not be DEEP south, but we're in the Appalachian Mountains, so... my guess is the exterminator took the possum home to make possum pot pie for himself!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to read your sad tale of possum woe, but it explains a LOT. Been wondering where you were, gardening/sketching buddy. I'll be looking for sketches of new ductwork and teenaged possums.

pedalpower said...

Oh my goodness, you have been through the wringer lately! That is a whopper of a bill too. My folks used to live in Jackson, so I know what your heat down there is like--I can't imagine doing it w/o air conditioning! I love your possum drawing though.

Kathleen Pequignot said...

How insane! So sorry you had to endure the hardship of the odor, not to mention the intense southern heat. I'm glad to hear that insurance covered this. How fortunate for you.

Anonymous said...

This guy is adorable. I used to think that about possums until I moved to Florida. They're everywhere here and they're huge (former NY'er here - anything is huge compared to a subway rat). I've been sidetracked by more then one of those critters when they walk out into the road in front of my bike and start to stare me down. They win everytime. But so do squirrels - what can I say, I'm a wimp.

Lindsay said...

Well, you have given me a real 'possom education. Now I know never to invite one in for tea! What a misery! No air conditioning is tooooo cruel! In my neighborhood its rabbits! They are multiplying, well, like rabbits. All manner of rodentia are taking over the earth!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a story. My wife would have blamed the smell on me for a couple weeks at least...

Any how, i love this peice. you really nailed a fantasitc sketch!

Big Harry

Anonymous said...

We have been having the smell of dead baby possum's under our trailer. Just found two been looking for days thinking we had a dead mouse. Now we are scraed how many more is in the insulation under us. Very intersting story