Despite having had the poignant experience of watching a mother possum with babies clinging to her back negotiate the back fence at my mother’s house in Florida, I have never been particularly fond of possums. They rate about as highly as do rats with me. I suppose I can be faulted for not wanting them hanging about my yard, baring their little sharp teeth and wandering around in the nude, but I find them unnerving. They look (and act) too much like rats with a terminal skin disease. I opened my front door and Earnest ran out in full pursuit of the critter. He chased it up and over our back fence. Why possums always prefer back fences even though they (like side fences) generally lead to yet another yard is beyond me, but in my limited experience, they do. Are they convinced as are so many humans that wilderness lies behind us? All I can say is that I hope the sharp toothed little beastie makes it back to the wild lands. I’m glad it is gone and has left knowing that a dog with a large jaw and sharp teeth will chase it should it choose to return; it doesn’t belong in my backyard. What kind of life can it enjoy here in this congested neighborhood overrun with humans, dogs, and cats . . . and guns.
I add that bit about guns because of this, which I bury here deep under the silt of the third paragraph because it depresses me. This morning, while Earnest and I were walking on the street, a man was shot only two blocks from where we were walking, wounded only, thank goodness. Because of Earnest’s late night activities chasing possums form the yard, we left the house a bit later, Earnest ready to bark at his friends between here and 8th St and me equipped as always with latex gloves and plastic bags for collecting trash, which was plentiful. As there seemed to be an overwhelming amount of trash on 11th St and then an equal amount on Campbell, I decided to go first around the block, ending my circle at the city trash can, rather than walking immediately down Peralta towards 7th St as I usually do. That decision may just have saved me from running into the gun-toting thugs who confronted their target somewhere nearby and chased him down to 8th and Mandela.
As it took some time to stuff my filled bag of trash into the city trashcan, when we finally started down Peralta, morning traffic had increased. BART was rattling, cars were passing, dogs barking, skateboards wailing past at high speed. With all the hullabaloo, I missed the gunshots, and didn’t think much of the sirens (there are always sirens), but when I happened upon the scene – still fresh, patrol cars with blue lights flashing, the street only recently closed, plastic yellow ribbons stretched from corner to corner, making room for the policemen to complete their investigation – I knew something serious had occurred. Streets are usually only closed when guns are fired, but as I had not heard gunshots, I assumed the fracas must have occurred last night and that I was witnessing the tail end of an investigation of a serious crime. As it turned out, there had been a fatal shooting several blocks to the east at about 9:30 last night, but this investigation was not for that. When I learned that the 22-year-old had been shot shortly after 9 am, as we were walking, I felt a chill run up my spine. This is the hour children walk to school and when workers congregate at the train station, coffee cups in hand.
So what happened to golden aura of yesterday? Carried off by possums? I went to the Goodwill, bought myself a lovely wool coat from Italy, never worn, for $15, came home and made some potato carrot soup. Winter will soon be upon us.