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Visits from the wild animal department
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My indoor cat is no longer with us. To make up for the loss, my husband has taken to inviting the outdoor cat Julianne, in after dinner to watch TV with him. We fed her on the back porch, and when she came in to watch TV, we did not shut the door from the outside to the back porch, just the door from the inside to the back porch. Then when it was time for Julianne to go outside, we shut and locked all the doors.

Not any more.

About 10 days ago, my husband and I awoke about 2 a.m. to a crash on the back porch.

He got up to investigate. He couldn't make the porch light come on and had to go to his truck for a flashlight. He carefully shut both doors to the porch while he went to the truck and came back with a small pin light and a gun.

With the help of the pin light, he located a rather large possum who had apparently come in to dine on cat food while Julianne was watching TV and who got trapped in the back porch when the cat was put out and all doors locked.

That possum was over 18 inches long and very fat from his diet of cat food. He was hiding in the corner of the porch next to the silver coffin of a gas grill my husband installed on the porch.
Still unable to get the porch light to work, my husband commanded that I hold the pinlight on the possum while he aimed and shot it.

I do not in any way mean to denigrate my husband's aim, but I had visions of that gun going off and hitting the silver coffin and ricocheting around the porch. Or visions of the bullet hitting the gas line and the coffin exploding.

So I cowered behind my husband with my hand over his shoulder that was not holding the gun and closed my eyes. When I heard the shot, I scampered (if someone my age can scamper) into the kitchen.

He got that possum with one shot.

It reminded me of the long list of varmints we have had to deal with while living in that house. And, I remind you, we live only two blocks from the square.

The first one was in the house, not on the back porch, and happened only a few weeks after we had moved in.

I heard the dishes hitting each other in the kitchen. They were stacked in a drain. I did not have a dishwasher at that time. I woke my husband, and he carefully and quietly went to the dresser and got a gun and crept into the kitchen.

But remember we had only been in the house a few weeks, and he did not have the lay of the land in the dark. He promptly tripped over a stool and made way too much noise, both tripping and yelling. He stomped into the kitchen, turned on the light and saw nothing.

Grumbling, he returned to bed, and when everything settled down and got quiet, I heard the rattling of dishes again. This time, he turned on all the lights and stomped into the kitchen. The culprit was a flying squirrel. My chimneys don't have dampers and sometimes varmints fall down them.

My husband battled that squirrel with a broom and a trash can lid, just like a modern Lancelot, for more than 45 minutes before he got it out of the house. What made him irate was the fact that our cat at the time just watched with interest and never offered to help.

In between the first and last incident, I have encountered at least two bats inside the house. One of them actually hissed at me.

We have also heard or seen on our back porch at least one other possum and two, at different times, raccoons. The possum I saw dead on the street several days after it visited my porch. Of course, it may just have been a relative of my visitor. The raccoons my husband trapped and took to the country.

I can do without any more surprises in the wild animal department.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at