I think I've gone one better than you this week, Angie! We had a large black bear crash our garden gate this week, destroying the hinges, and searching for food. The bears are having a terrible time here, because of the prolonged drought we suffered from this year. No berries are left, and it's still a way to go before hibernation time.
Anyway, this guy left a large calling card amid the chaos.
It’s Autumn in Kentucky so pucker up 'possums!
There are other things I think of as well. Black walnuts mature and drop from the trees to be gathered. And there are “P” words - besides pumpkins. Pansies, peas, persimmons, and possums. (Technically, that’s an “O” word as these critters are actually “possums”, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone call them such in my entire life. Come on, we’re southerners, we like to chop off parts of our words!) The official name of the opossum in North America is the “Virginia Opposum.”
Actually, possums and persimmons are a common pair in the more rural areas (and sometimes in some suburban areas as possums have learned to adapt quite well to being suburbanites.) I know they’re both in the neighborhood now, as I just saw some possum scat when I was gathering walnuts the other day. (Yes, I’m back to “poop” again - it’s inevitable… if you want to read more about poop, here you go, The Guru of Poop.)
Old timers say if you cut them open and the seed kernel looks like a spoon, the winter is destined to be a snowy one.
If the kernel is fork shaped, the snow will be light, and if it’s knife shaped, the winter will be “cutting” or icy.
I’m not sure how accurate this is, but it sounds like one can certainly put together an interesting place setting from persimmon seeds.
I will tell you that possums are also notorious for being the top item on the list for roadkill animals--they don’t read road signs well and they don’t move quickly enough to dodge drivers who don’t see them in time.
Have you ever seen one or a picture of one? I’m not really thinking I’d like to plant a fat one on that! They have very sharp noses and teeth and hiss when feeling threatened. Because they’re not aggressive, if the hissing doesn’t seem to work, they will “play dead.” They will lie as if dead up to several hours.Their tails are rat-like and their diet consists of basically whatever they run across, including carrion.
ope, they can keep their kisses to themselves!
The real reason for my puckering reference? possums are known for their fondness of persimmons. They are able to climb trees with the help of that useful tail to get to the persimmons. Persimmon trees produce small, orange colored fruit that has many of the seeds I mentioned. Eat one before the first hard frost and it’ll pucker your mouth up tight! It’s almost like spooning up a mouthful of alum! (Don’t try that. You would NOT enjoy it!) But once a good, hard frost makes it way in as Fall deepens, it turns those persimmons into wonderful tasting fruits. Even though there are a lot of seeds to contend with, they are worth it. I’ve always wondered why the possums eat the persimmons before they’re fully ripened--there’s a world of difference!
They are the only native North American marsupial, meaning they give birth to underdeveloped young who stay within their mother’s pouch for a couple of months before venturing out to cling to their mother’s backs as she travels. Hey, it gets crowded in that little pouch after a while! I’ve never actually seen this with my own eyes, but I’ve heard of other country folk who have. I’m sure it’s a sight worth seeing!
Being raised in “the hills”--which is different from “mountain folk,” my diet consisted of a fair share of wild game.
Groundhogs, squirrels, rabbits, raccoon, turtles, frogs, fish, etc. were not safe in our fields and waterways. However, I’m quite glad that my parents drew the line at possum for supper! I will tell you, though, that people of the older generation could serve up some possum and dumplings!
I could go on about the bounty and beauty of Autumn.
Though it doesn’t yield the overflowing harvests of the Summer, there are still many foods produced, and it has its own offerings and charms.
There are celebrations during this season that draw family and friends closer together and nature just seems to call for the last outdoor fun before Winter makes its arrival, sending us indoors to hunker down in the warmth for a few months.
What are some other things that herald the approach of Autumn/Fall in your part of the world? Is it a season you enjoy?