My very own Day of the Dead

I do not normally celebrate the Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated in Mexico. But this year, the Universe decided to include me.

I’ve previously written about the circus I like to call my backyard. I’ve talked about the wild rumpus before. Rest assured that it continues.

If there isn’t a pint-sized human running through my backyard with a Batman cape or a sword, it’s not a typical day. And that small superhero is usually being chased by my far larger dog (who I’ve also talked about—but here’s one for the newbies). Said dog is barking tenaciously and loudly, warning said child that he must WALK—not run—through this herding dog’s domain. And may I remind you—these pint-sized humans are not those I created. Mine are far bigger humans now, with the body hair and deep voices to prove it.

Following the herding dog is generally one of a cabal of senior persons—namely my old male neighbors from up and down the block. They’re typically trying to calm the crazy dog with Milk Bones (which I don’t give her), rawhide (which I don’t give her) or table scraps (yes, you guessed it—which I don’t give her). All while yelling loudly for her to “stop barking” and “calm down.”

While happy that the Universe is making sure I never feel lonely, this circus can sometimes get out of hand. Say, on a working day, perhaps. And this week, the Universe decided to gift me an unwanted addition to the ruckus. A very quiet unwanted addition. So quiet, I believe it was dead in my window well for a day or two before one of the little humans discovered it.

Penelope Possum, as we shall call her, showed up a bit early for Day of the Dead this week. And, of course, she was a possum. Had she been a raccoon, a skunk, or a groundhog, I would have been able to definitively call the situation as I saw it—“dead.” But because possums play dead when scared, I was left with a conundrum. And because I am not a fan of coming in close proximity with wild critters like possums, I was hesitant to test my “dead” theory.

I went where I always go when I need solid opinions—to the local Facebook moms group. As I explained my situation and asked for help in who to call, the answers came fast and furious. I believe they ranged from “my Uncle Ned” to Animal Control. And my favorite—the woman who asked me to take a picture of poor Penny. Huh? I later realized she fancied herself a possum expert. She thought she could tell from the pic if Penny was alive or dead.

While my online friends discussed the possum situation at length (“Get a plank and see if it walks out.” “If it’s alive, it will drool.”), Penny was generating great interest amongst the pint-sized male humans and their far larger senior counterparts.

As I awaited a “Critter Detective” to haul away poor Penny (the only good online suggestion I got), the senior cabal held a pow-wow just over my window well, the little ones listening with rapt attention. “You know possums play dead, right? I mean, you could reach in there to grab him and he might just bite off a finger!” As I heard another neighbor respond with a story of his ill-fated cousin in that very situation many moons ago, I sighed, heading into the house to put on a jacket. When I came out, the older gents informed me—while holding a large stick—that they had prodded Penelope and she was—in their expert opinion—truly dead. The tiny men concurred, nodding solemnly.

Sheesh. Everybody is a possum expert nowadays.

I nearly hugged the Critter Detective when he finally showed up. I felt bad for poor Penny but was glad to see her go to a final resting place other than my window well. And for future reference, I am told a possum playing dead generally either freezes on all fours or lies on its back with its feet in the air. Penny, alas, was on her side.

The tiny tots who discovered her talked of having a ceremony for Penelope. We haven’t yet. If we do, I guess November 2 is our day. Tradition dictates survivors place the favorite foods of the deceased at the grave site. So if you see any pint-sized humans bringing slugs, snails, frogs or small rodents my way . . . well, you’ll know why.

It’s just another day in my backyard circus.

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41 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh, poor little Penny. I hope she lead a long, happy life… whatever that means for a possum!

    1. candidkay says:

      Right? I felt the same:). She was actually pretty darn cute.

  2. RIP Penny. May she rest in peace somewhere where she won’t rot and stink up your house. Right now, we’ve got someone rotting in the walls of the house, that fortunately I only smell when I open one closet. The one under the stairs. I’m pretty sure mice crawl in where the water line comes in – and the hot water heater is there, so it’s nice and comfy this chilly time of year.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ew! The joy of older homes, eh? That is definitely the antithesis of the charm :-).

  3. shamanism1 says:

    If there is a death, your backyard is the place to go to. So much attention and nurturing . You offer a space for everyone and everything to feel comfortable and even though that means a little less time for you, or a random death, it’s kind of a compliment Kay. RIP penny 🙏🏻💚

    1. candidkay says:

      Aw, thank you! I kind of thought that at first. That maybe my place’s comforting energy drew poor Penny here. I hope it was quick and peaceful.

  4. Poor Penny, but I do love the idea of the little people bringing her offerings of slugs and snails 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Right? Really very sweet 💕

  5. George says:

    I think you need to start charging admission for certain days in you’re life…:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Now there’s an idea 💡

  6. “Get a plank and see if it walks out” 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      Right? Like I’m a pirate?!😳

  7. mydangblog says:

    That’s so funny! We have the same thing in town–Ken is building a new porch and he’s regularly interrupted by some old gent who’s just stopped by to see how it’s going and offer advice or a ladder!

    1. candidkay says:

      They’re everywhere, those old gents:). I’m surprised there isn’t an international convention for them . . .

  8. Ninasusan says:

    I loved this story! I went there!

    1. candidkay says:

      Good! Thank you for going there–dead possum and all . . .

  9. The cabal of old men sounds very familiar. “Dispensing advice, wanted or not.” Love it.

    1. candidkay says:

      Right?! There seems to be one of those in every town/neighborhood:). Hope yours is as friendly as mine . . .

  10. srbottch says:

    Very nice story. Some humor, some angst and a cadaver, a perfect episode for ‘Leave It To Beaver’, ‘Ozzie & Harriet’ or ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and the Mayberry cast. Nice work. By the way, was it bloated and covered with bugs? Now that would have been a good clue… 😉

    1. candidkay says:

      Ew. Spoken like a true guy:). Maybe I should be writing scripts for Hallmark movies . . .

      1. srbottch says:

        Y’know, we might be on to something. Some of the best ideas come from the least expected sources. Have you ever read Og Mandino’s ‘The Choice’? Easy read and thought provoking.

      2. candidkay says:

        I have read that one! Years and years ago. Good book!

      3. srbottch says:

        I only say ‘years ago’ ONE time. I gave the book to a coworker. He read it, quit his job and went to umpire school (I was living in Rockford at the time). He was the last one to be cut at umpire school but he was happier for the experience.

  11. markbialczak says:

    RIP Penny. So much better for you and all your animals than a live skunk, Kay, or even a lumbering groundhog, Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle and I say from experience.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh no! Bailey got skunked last year and–ugh. Oh, just ugh. Ellie B also? And wow–groundhogs can be mean. What happened?

      1. markbialczak says:

        Yes, Ellie B was skunked right between the eyes, and then ricocheted around all the furniture in the house. This was five years ago, and it seems like yesterday, Kay. And the groundhog at the old backyard thought the green space was private domain. I found the thing hanging from our dear dog’s neck one morning. I caught it in a humane trap and released it at a big park.

      2. candidkay says:

        Oh no! Your backyard is not for the faint of heart😱

  12. This is the first Halloween in ages we haven’t been in Mexico City for Day of the Dead. ( We mixed it up by going in September for Mexican Independence Day ) Anyway – Nov. 1 is the day forr dead children, Nov. 2 deceased adults. I suggest building a shrine of marigolds on Nov. 3 to honor deceased possums. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Squad goals😉. Now you’re talkin’.

    2. candidkay says:

      And what was it like in Mexico City on that day?

      1. Mexico City is a special place. Day of the dead is a 2 day national holiday, it’s Halloween on steroids! LOVE IT!

      2. candidkay says:

        I’ve heard people either love it or not—glad you enjoy it!

      3. I think Mexico City scares a lot of people, it’s certainly not a tourist destination for many North Americans.

      4. candidkay says:

        And yet, a beautiful City in so many ways. I have a couple of acquaintances from Mexico city who live in the states now and They talk about so many beautiful parts of the city. It’s one of the places I’d like to visit.

  13. Dale says:

    Other than poor Penelope Possom, your circus sounds wonderful… mind you, the coming together of your peeps, little and not so little, is just a wonderful thing.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree. And I laugh because they’re always seems to be a cabal of old men in every neighborhood and town who decide that they are the elders of the tribe and will dispense advice, wanted or not :-).

  14. Judy says:

    Alas poor Penny, you’re gone too soon. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, we need you at the ceremony, Judy . . .:). You could be our officiant . . .

      1. Judy says:

        😀 I need a transporter or to be wealthy enough to charter a plane. 🙂

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