A Clean Slate Farm Mystery
We have met the enemy and he is us. -Pogo
It was dark. Out-in-the-country-with-no-street-lights dark. I mean, you can see things and people and animals and all but, sometimes you need to figure out what that is you’re looking at. It was that kind of night.
Time-wise, we were going into our second Thanksgiving at Clean Slate Farm. Dave and I were counting our blessings for this home, our neighbors, our wonderful animals, and the fact that we were still without snow for the year. As my usual routine went, I rushed home from work and priorities being what they are, the animals and their feeding was first on my list! I gathered myself together and let the yelping dogs out the door. (Picture two sixty-five pound, white mongrels barreling into the darkness.) As I head for the barn, immediately, I see them gathered around a dark lump in the grass. “Get away from that, you two!” My mind races! What the heck! Is! That! A sick cat? An unknown dog from around the area? Some dead thing dragged by coyotes from parts unknown? No matter what, I want them away from it. I’m also just realizing I’ve been elected to Dark Lump Removal with the rake and black plastic bag. Ick.
Just before I venture a look, I give Dave, who is also on his way from work, a call. “Stick with me for just a minute”, I say, “there’s something disgusting in the lawn and I just want company as I take a look.” He stays on the line and waits to hear my next sound – some blood-curdling scream. (Actually I’m not like that. I love this place so much a few icky parts are nothing compared to the beauty every day.) Anyhow, I slowly creep toward Dark Lump, screaming at the dogs to “Leave It!” All of a sudden our neighbor yells from behind me on the hill “Hi! I’ve got your Wreath!” For the second time in twenty minutes I’m feeling a little jumpy. In the meantime, Dave is screaming on the other end of the call, “Who’s there with you? Are you alright?” Yes, all is good, I say and hang up. I ask Neighbor, “would you walk over to this big lump with me? Always up for adventure, she’s game. We creep up to the Dark Shape.
The dogs, by this time sniffed, nudged, barked and scared whatever it is to its second death. Neighbor-accomplice and I slowly walk together flashlight in hand to find the biggest dead opossum you’ve ever seen, flat out in the grass. We really stare at it and nudge it a bit with our boots. It’s dead, alright. She’s ready to help get it into the black plastic bag but I know she’s in a hurry so, I tell her thanks for the wreath delivery and let her be on her way. “Oh, also,” I ask, “how do you like your new pickup?” Since this thing in the grass isn’t going anywhere, I walk with her back out to the driveway to take a look at the new baby. Yep. Beautiful. After a full review and approval, I need to get back to the business of the dead marsupial and the feeding of the ticked-off animals now really wondering why they are not getting fed.
This will only take a minute. I get the rake and the bag. Better get two bags. That thing looked hefty. Walk over to the lump. Ooops. Must have been over here. Wait a minute. Lost it. No, maybe over here. Wait, up the hill a little more. Wait a second!! Dark Lump. Where is it?? Gone!! I look everywhere in the area. Did the cats drag it somewhere? Did a coyote come by while I was down the hill? Both scenarios are making me gag. And making me think I, and Neighbor imagined this thing. Could that be?
I decide the Dark Lump can wait. Better get back to priorities. That horse is getting a little impatient and the dogs need to be fed in the house. Within 15 minutes, there is happy munching, the dogs are back out lifting their legs to mark the former spot of Dark Lump. I’m baffled. I decide to call neighbor and tell her of this strange chain of events. Not having her number on speed-dial, I dial by memory and a voice answers “Hello.” I say in my best, mysterious voice, “The ‘possum is gone!!” The voice on the other end pauses… I now have an inkling. This woman does not own a pick up and I just interrupted her as she is cleaning out the turkey gizzards for her own Thanksgiving. She comes out of the pause with a straight, perfect response. “I’m glad for you, Honey. And you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.”
Wrong number. No pick-up. No possum.
When I finally talk to the Pick-Up Truck neighbor, she says, “Haven’t you ever heard the saying, “Playing ‘Possum?”
Yes. I was in that play and it’s still a bit of a Mystery.