Saturday, June 1, 2013

Kitchen Dramas

I can’t watch the television shows where cooks scream at each other or swear vehemently at the food they’re preparing. I would not want to eat food that had been cursed. My kitchen has seen its share of drama, though. The time the kids were being careful with a candle resulted in impressive flames, a dishwater flood and an enduring scorch mark.

The week when two Sagittarians took the kitchen apart and put it back together again was fairly spectacular. They did a great renovation job, ultimately, but for a while it looked like a herd of wild horses had been let loose. I eventually located my pie plates a couple of months later.

Cider is safer.
Our friend Rowan gave us a bottle of mead from the first batch he had ever brewed. We put it away for a special occasion. The mead, however, chose its own holiday. It exploded in the kitchen on the Fourth of July.

The cats consider the kitchen prime hunting territory, with accompanying feline territorial disputes. The mouse hunts are not limited to the kitchen, of course. They ramp through the house, usually in the small hours of the night, with a tendency to end up in somebody’s slipper. The time I woke up with a cat offering me a live mouse in my bed was a definite low point, from the human-monkey point of view.

My daughter clipped one of Jim Davis’s Garfield comics for me. John wakes up appreciating nature, then wakes up a little more and wonders how it all got inside. Garfield is responsible, of course. This seems to happen regularly around here. My daughter and her cat once kept an opossum from coming through the screen door by means of a circus performance requiring claws, a broom and a long-handled duster.

The opossum I evicted was already inside. I first saw her in the living room, ambling down the stairs. The cats sat up attentively but made no move to intercept. Their postures expressed various levels of “I’m not touching that.” The possum sauntered across the floor into the kitchen, cruising for catfood dishes.
Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana).
I was too busy getting rid of her to take a photo.

When I was ten or so, my father rescued an opossum from the local dogs. He grabbed it by the tail and hoisted it up above his head. It wrapped its prehensile tail around his wrist and held on for dear life, all the while pretending to be dead. Accompanied by half the dogs in town, he walked out toward the timber. The neighborhood kids turned out to try to call off the pack. We yelled and threw things at the dogs. The dogs yelped and leapt at the possum. The possum opened one eye, then shut it again quickly: “I’m still dead.” Eventually our entourage reached the end of its territory. My father and the possum went on across a pasture into the woods and disappeared into the trees.

I had never caught a possum by the tail, but I knew it could be done. I opened the back door, put on my wood-hauling gloves and followed the interloper into the kitchen. She hissed and squirmed when I seized her tail. I lifted her as high as I could and flung her out the door. She landed several yards from the house, still hissing. I was certain she was female because of her righteous indignation: “Don’t you understand? I have babies to raise!”

“Sorry,” I told her. “Not in my kitchen.”

Kitchen witch, a little cracked but still flying.

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