(Photo by Y.L. Bordelon)
The appearance last night of a raccoon (named Bourland*, explanation below) alters the wildlife environment on my patio. Opossums, I have learned, carry virtually no disease, actually less than cats and dogs, and are rarely destructive for any reason. In the wild they eat mice and rats, roaches and other damaging insects, and often feed on our North American pit vipers because they are immune to the venom. Raccoons, on the other hand, are Trouble, both for humans and other animals. And do often carry rabies.
So Bourland will have to be discouraged. Toward that end, we have moved the cracked corn to the highest bird feeder with a tiny tray that is a hassle for anything not flying to reach, and no pecans tonight.
I did research during the wee hours while possum watching. From what I can deduce, this very unusual collection on my patio represents a litter likely started last January that emerged from Puddy's pouch (if indeed Puddy is the mama) around 3-4 months ago. When pickings are good and predation is low, siblings will sometimes remain together until they begin mating, usually after six months of age. By late December, our familiars will have separated or (even more likely) been picked off by cars, dogs, and owls.
Tempis fugit, especially for Didelphimorphia.
And, being a poet, I am reminded now of A.E. Housman's admonition:
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
*Bourland is named for my great-great-great-grandfather, self-proclaimed "Colonel" James Bourland, a major slave-owner who arrived in Texas soon after its establishment as a Republic and set up a mini-empire along the Red River in Cooke County. He went through two wives and several armed conflicts. With his son-in-law Austin Brooks Manion, he built a trading post on the Red River in Chickasaw Territory directly across from Texas. There he became rich by selling (illegally) both firearms and whiskey to the recently dispossessed native peoples being forced into Oklahoma from all over their ancestral lands in the U.S. When eventually a group of native men proved unable to handle liquor and set out on reprisal against white encroachment, Bourland would pull together a vigilante posse to track them down, kill them, and take back the guns for resale.
Bourland is especially infamous for his role in the Great Hanging at Gainesville in 1862.