Squirrel. Sciurus carolinensis? Rodent. Cute? Of course, in a rodent sort of way.*Opossum. Didelphimorphia (Virginia?). Marsupial. Cute? No way.*

Please read this...Squirrel: Cute; Possum: Not so cute

Cute: Squirrel.

Not So Cute: Opossum. AKA Just Plain Ol' Possum.

This week's little adventure began when your writer went for a daily walk one evening last week.

As I stepped off our front porch, I could hear a dog barking, somewhere out in the dark. For the sake of filling space, we'll call it a dark bark. The dog continued to bark. And bark. And bark. In the dark, dark, dark. I kept on walking. And walking. And walking.

As I was getting closer to home, I spotted the source of the dark bark. The barker was at the base of a tree, which was growing on an embankment in a ravine not far from our abode. Up in the tree, maybe 10 or 15 feet off the ground, I spotted what appeared to be a gray and white fur ball, perched, unmoving, on a bare branch.

Upon further inspection, I determined that the fur ball was an opossum, or, as most of us around here would call it, a possum. Quite honestly, I don't know anybody who actually refers to a possum as an opossum. If you think about it, which I don't try to do, saying "possum" is a whole easier than trying to spit out "opossum." Don't know why that is. Just is.

Anyway, I kind of felt sorry for the poor possum in the tree. So, I convinced the barking dog to go away. (Just so you know, no animals were harmed in the creation of the this colyum.)

After the dog went away to bark at something else in the night, the possum just kind of stayed where it was. Unmoving. Seemingly not bothered by the fact that I started to take pictures of the critter. 

A couple of days later, I showed some of the folks at The Paragraph Factory one of the pictures of the possum I had taken.

"Isn't it cute?" I asked.

The response to that question was pretty much a resounding no. 

Possums, it seems, are not considered to be among the Creator's cute critters. As near as I could tell, as the result of a totally unscientific, random survey, possums are, well, disgusting. Kind of like ticks, leeches, slugs, snakes of all kinds, spiders and rats. One fellow traveler on the Journey Through Life even suggested that possums are basically rats trying not to be rats.

Just for the sake of comparison, my unscientific survey included a picture of a squirrel, munching on a nut of some sort. The consensus was that the squirrel was cute.

Possums, it seems, are considered to be snarling, hissing, nasty creatures, with sharp teeth and naked tails. Squirrels, on the other paw, are cute little critters with bushy tails.

These views, at least for the sake of this colyum, made me feel a little bit sorry for possums. Sure, I've seen nasty, hissing possums. But the one I met last week seemed to be a nice little fellow. I'm thinking that this possum may have been grateful that somebody came along to chase the big ol' nasty, barking dog away.

My experience with squirrels is somewhat mixed. They do seem to enjoy emptying our bird feeders, with utter disregard for our feathered friends. 

Squirrels also have sharp teeth. Very sharp teeth. This I know from personal experience. One time, many years ago, a squirrel chomped on one of my fingers. Long story. However, for a very short time, I possessed incredible squirrel powers, such as the ability to get fat by eating too much during the winter; an incredible taste for bird seed; and a bushy, but cute, tail. 

I hate to think what might have happened if I'd been bitten by a possum. Except maybe I'd have a desire to drop unnecessary vowels from the beginning of words.

In closing (aren't you glad about that?), I'm going to leave it up to you, the reader: Is a possum cute? Perhaps you can talk about it around the dinner table this Sunday.

(*This colyum does not pretend to be accurate when it comes to the scientific names of squirrels and possums.)

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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