Last night I was sitting at my laptop, while ostensibly supervising some spaghetti cooking on the stove (my last two attempts at cooking gluten free spaghetti had resulted in nasty sludgey texture, so I was trying to take more care with the cooking process this time) when I heard the possum that lives in the chimney rattling around, as it does most evenings when it heads up to the roof and out to rampage around. Yes, I know it’s odd that it lives in the chimney, but I suppose it’s dark and protected, and for most of the year it’s unused. Given that we live in a semi-tropical area. But whenever it gets chilly and we light fires, it doesn’t seem to bother the possum. Maybe it’s addicted to wood smoke.
Anyway, I began to half listen to an irritating sort of scratching noise, which I ignored while nurturing a simmering annoyance at the cats, who seem to spend their time either sleeping or destroying something. I presumed they were busily destroying something and ignored the noise, but it persisted. I looked up to find a rather fat possum wedged behind the glass door of the wood heater, sitting on a partially charred log, and scratching hopefully at the glass. Horace was standing in front of the heater with his head to one side, looking slightly bemused.
We had seen the possum in the wood heater once before, so I presumed it would make its way up the chimney again. I went and stirred the spaghetti and sat down at the laptop again. The possum stared at me, unmoving. I felt a bit self conscious. I went and flapped my hand at it through the glass, hoping to frighten it up into the chimney again, but it continued to gaze mournfully at me. I drained the spaghetti, which had cooked perfectly for a change. I think it depends on the batch you get – well, that sounds better than blaming my slapdash cooking method, anyway.
Eventually the husband returned to the house, and I showed him with the wood heater, now with all new possum resident. We looked at the possum. The possum looked at us. We wondered what the possum would do if we let it out into the house, and decided it probably wouldn’t get on with the cats.
We ended up forming a little tunnel out of a sheet we held up between the heater and the back door, and then we slowly opened the door to the wood heater. The possum hopped down, and slowly waddled off out the door, its dignity somewhat bruised, its fur covered in soot. Hopefully it will go and find itself a slightly more suitable new home. We ate our spaghetti. The cats went to sleep. And all was right with the world.