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  • Mj Pettengill

A New Face in the Neighborhood


I have often thought of how helpful it would be for opossums to live nearby. I have seen them in other places, but never this far north. Why would I care? Well, for starters, I love most wild animals. I try to find the good in all. When others complain, shoot at them, trap them, etc., I find a way to share the space harmoniously.


Without disrupting the natural flow and comprehending the differences between us, I always maintain a healthy space. I keep in mind that I am a threat to this animal in its perception. I do not cross boundaries. Not all humans are created equal. I respect animals that cross my path by honoring the code of sharing the planet and supporting a healthy habitat for all. Soon I will begin training for wildlife rehabilitation. I have been involved in bird rescue, banding, and other similar activities for most of my life. To me, the most incredible fact about opossums is that they consume thousands of ticks. I happen to live in a tick-infested area. Last summer, I was bitten by an infected tick and had to undergo intense treatment to crush Lyme disease. I was fortunate. I found the tick on my body, and when the bullseye rash appeared, I went straight to the hospital. The folks who do not catch the tick or infection early may end up with chronic Lyme disease. I have been fortunate to manifest beautiful wild animals here in the woods and fields. Last summer, Swift, the gray fox, visited nightly and listened to my cello playing. I have been blessed with the typical sighting of several black bears, coyotes, deer, moose, numerous birds, and more.


The bird feeding stations come down as soon as the bears indicate that they are stirring from their winter slumber. When bird feeders become bear bait, it is time to re-think the setup. I often take feeders in at night. I sprinkle nuts, seeds, and cracked corn on the ground for the birds and squirrels to forage all year-round. I was happy to see the gray fox last week and have heard the coyotes all winter. When I observed the opossum, I was grateful. Drawn to a small compost area that I have, it was attracted to vegetable scraps and peels. If it decides to stay, I will respect its need for privacy in the wild. I will also give thanks for its tendency to feast on ticks. I like naming them. It's only for writing and my own well-preserved-inner child. I have an idea but will sleep on it—so many possibilities.


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