Friday, June 04, 2010

Poss's Story ~~

jjl (my possum, not Jen's possum)

I've had interactions with tame and wild animals that I don't give a rats what science would say of it, they've been uniquely incredible interactions in love and trust regardless of the species divide.

One that comes to mind was with Poss, a one eyed wild possum who took to joining me for lunch some days when I was at uni. She came looking for food one day when a group of us were in a park. I went back and we formed a relationship that lasted until I finished uni.

We would interact a couple of times a week and it was wonderful. I would go to near her tree and call her 'Po-oss'.. she would come running, I'd sit on the ground and she'd sit on my lap, front paws extended up my chest, looking into my face and chattering excitedly - catching up on her days since I'd seen her.

From her chatter I may not know the absolute content, but I knew when it was scary, or sad, or happy to see me, or angry.. sometimes she was if I hadn't seen her for longer than usual and after some soothing she'd be fine again.

And sometimes she'd tell me big, huge stories that would have me wide eyed - even if I didn't know the actual details - the emotions were all there.

I'd open my lunch box and she'd immediately want the chocolate cake or biscuits, but I'd make her eat salad and fruit first. I would hold the food, okay, sometimes she'd grab the lot off me, but still sit on my lap to eat it. But mostly I would hold it and she would wrap her paw around my little finger as she ate from my fingers - like a little baby does when feeding. She would make comments and keep looking at the biscuit or cake for afters.

We would 'chat' the whole time, sometimes if I got it wrong - what she was talking about, she would change her tone to almost condescending until I got it right. Once she even slapped me with her paw when I gave her one too many pieces of lettuce and told her she had to eat it when she wanted cake. Possums can bite and scratch, but she never did.

Once she tricked me and stole a piece of cake wrapped in plastic and raced up her tree with it. Me pleading, scolding her bring it back, that I would give it to her if she let me take the plastic off. She argued for awhile safe up in her tree, but then sheepishly did bring it back when she couldn't unwrap it and I was scolding her not to eat the plastic.

A tourist was watching me, shaking his head (lol) but when she brought it back and we settled back down he was amazed.

She was pregnant and with only one eye used to get pretty beat up by other wildlife in the park.

We had an interesting relationship. Scientifically it wouldn't count for a thing, but when I took my daughters in to meet her she 'got' the relationship and the social setting of it. She weighed them up, chattered on my lap, holding my fingers as she took food from them, and when she was done impressing them she looked deeply into my eyes for a moment and then brought her baby out of her pouch to show me.

Reciprocity. She was honouring me as I had honoured her by bringing my girls to meet her. She knew the relationship.

The sad end to this tale was I went to see her one day and she was a mess. She was totally agitated and desperately telling me something was very wrong. She wasn't even interested in my food but would alternate sort of grabbing my shirt in her desperate babble and cuddling up to me in almost exhausted sadness.

A couple of rangers came up behind me and were standing watching. I was desperate to know what had hurt her so much and once she adjusted to them being there asked them if they knew her. They were shaking their heads saying they'd never seen anything like it - our relationship - then I asked if they had seen her baby as it had been almost big enough to come out of her pouch and she was noticeable thinner.

They asked where her tree was and when I pointed to it they sadly said that they had found a dead baby at the base of the tree a few days before.

Poss and I still met, but she was different. She was in mourning and it was like her whole purpose was gone. She was less hungry and less talkative, and yet she would still cuddle up to me and chatter softly.

~~ Smiley Jen

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