Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Marsupial Serenade

Possum Platter by Linda Starr

We've been having some rather mild June weather this year. The other night I was sitting at the computer and I had the office window open letting the evening breeze drift in to cool the stagnant air. My cat Binky was sitting on the window sill basking in the sounds of the night. I was concentrating on the computer when my ears detected a purring sound. I turned to Binky thinking it was him wanting attention. But then I heard the noise again and realized it wasn't Binky making the sound. It sounded like a cooing and purring outside the office window. It sounded like a cat and, yet, it didn't. I noticed Binky was looking very intently at the ground outside.

Possum in my Front Yard

I walked over to the window and tried to move Binky aside, but he just wouldn't budge off the window sill. I peered out the window but couldn't see a thing, but heard the strange cooing noise again. I hurried to get a flashlight to see what was making the sounds. When I turned on the flashlight I was greeted by two black eyes, the cutest little black ears, and a long snout, looking up at me, an opossum. In the Northern Hemisphere they are an opossum but most often everyone says possum. Of course, I rushed to get my camera, hoping the little guy wouldn't disappear before I got a chance to take his photo.

Fuji Apples

I was truly amazed this tiny possum looking up at me had no fear. He was just standing there under a shrub in the front yard. Unfortunately this photo was the best I could do pressing my camera up against the screen. I tried quite a few times to get a good photo through the screen and holding the flashlight in one hand, but I just couldn't get a better photo than the one above. Once I started looking at the possum with the flashlight, it stopped its serenade, but it made no effort to run away. After what seemed like quite a while, the possum wandered off under the bushes.

Moorpark Apricot

I was really struck by the lack of fear in the possum even with Binky looking so intently at him and me repeatedly shining my flashlight and clicking the flash on my camera trying to capture his photo. If you've been reading my blog for even the shortest little while, of course, you know what else I was thinking. Yes, it's true, I was thinking wouldn't this dainty little possum be the most wonderful subject for an illustration on my next clay piece. It was as if this fearless creature came to perform a marsupial serenade just for me under my window sill. I was privileged to see the possum. The Eastern US has many possum, but there aren't as many in the West.

Red Haven Peach

Ok, I know you're thinking I must be crazy to put a possum on a platter, but there is only one marsupial in North America and that is the Virginia Opossum. I found out many folks like them; there is even an opossum society. Some people rescue injured or abandoned possum. The possum is often misunderstood, but it should be protected since it is not destructive and is a very ancient mammal. Besides I think possum are so cute. The possum is edible and in the South possum is considered a delicacy and is used in such dishes as possum pie and possum stew. Now my little possum graces a platter I made in his honor. I'm hoping to get some pink stain for his toes and nose before I fire him.

Warren Pear

I have a feeling more nocturnal animals will be visiting my clay studio in the future, so check back again to see what creatures are lurking in the night. Meanwhile in the garden my fruits are slowly maturing and will soon be ready to pick. All of the fruits I grow in my garden are varieties that aren't normally available in the grocery store. If any fruit falls on the ground, I think I'll leave it there a day or two for the possum. Next time I'll tell you about a fruit I am growing on a palm tree and it isn't a coconut and it isn't a date. Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again real soon. Questions and comments are always welcome.


  1. Wow that;s a lot of fruit! Amazing platter! I've only seen albino mean looking possum that were NOT cute.

  2. Hi Linda,really interesting post about possums. Great that you were able to take a photo, quite an achievement. I didn't realize that you had them in your part of the world. They are very much in evidence in Australia (where they are part of the natural fauna) and in New Zealand. They were introduced to NZ as someone's "bright idea" to develop a fur trade. Sadly they have become a problem, as New Zealand has a unique ecosystem that evolved around bird life, so introduced mammal or marsupial species have no natural predators to keep them in balance and can reach "plaque" proportions (as happened with rabbits). They are lovely animals though, (some people have kept them very successfully as pets). I gave one a decent burial here that had been killed on the road near our place. I was amazed at the beauty of its hands and feet (might sound daft, but I like hands!)

    I have left a longish reply for you on my site to your comment about cone 5/6 glazes.

    I liked your opossum Platter too, by-the-way, Best to you, P.

  3. I like you Opossum Platter too, I will direct Jess, my botanical daughter (behind the scenes of the Musseum)to your fruit trees, she will be very interested. She is in Barcelona for a few days at the moment.

  4. we are visited by all sorts of creatures and opossums are one of them and raccons another- fox and deer come and go aswell.
    Great picture of the possum! And the platter is wonderful- you are a great artist.
    I envy your fruit trees. I would be coming in the night to see if I could get some tasty friut!

  5. thanks Linda for your visit to our studio, Doks Dora was the first building built with cement and iron in 1912 in Italy and is now protected as industrial archeology. I saw you plant interests, visit my garden on the terrace of Turin and try ORTOCASA in Turin, The tomatoes are growing. Ciao

  6. they are cute! doesn't Ron do something with possum too?

  7. i don't think you're crazy to put a possum on a platter, it looks great. i really had a problem with southerners dropping the "o" but after living in ky for a long time, i've finally given in and wonder why it was there in the first place

  8. It's interesting Peter mention's the possum's feet, because I think their little footprints look like little hand prints! I saw their prints in a animal tracks book I have. In Alaska we don't have any possums only porcupines, beavers, muskrats etc.

    Linda, I can't believe how beautiful your FRUIT is!

  9. Hi Miri, thanks, yes I think the possum does have the reputation of hissing and barring it's teeth if it is treatened.

    Hi Peter, it is sad about introduced species. I would suspect the fox would eat an opossum. Supposedly their fur is very soft. Their hands are very cute and I read that the back feed have an opposing thumg also which is very interesting. I think they were introduced into the Western United States from the east as potential food during the Great Depression. Thanks, I will check you blog.

    Hi Kitty, thanks. The fuji apple is found at the grocery store, but it is so good I just had to plant one, but the others are rarely grown today and are all excellent tasting varieties.

    Hi Meredith, I bet you have more creatures visiting you than you know with that huge pond. If you lived near I'd bring some fruit over so you wouldn't have to sneak over in the middle of the night. Sadly the birds are pecking at my apricots. I had nets last year but they weighted the branches down and a few birds got stuck underneath and one finch or sparrow stuck in the net (I rescued him though), so I dispensed with them.

    Hi Filippo, that building is amazing; I will check your garden site, thanks so much for visiting.

    Hi Gary, thanks, I am not sure about Ron.

    Hi Jim, thanks, don't Southerns drop a lot of syllables? Ha Ha. When we lived in Arkansas sometimes we'd get instructions to various places and never did find the street due to the pronounciation. Gary used to call the South a parallal universe (in a respectfully way).

    Hi Cindy, thanks, yes their feet are like tiny hands and are pink and their tracks are very distinctive. I am going to have to start looking at the lower part of our property to see if I can find some. The apricots and peaches are just about ripe and they are so good because I let them ripen right on the tree. The birds get a few and we do too. I don't use any pesticides either - home grown is so good. All the creatures are so wonderful in their own special way. It was neat to see this possum up so close and get to observe him for such a length of time. I'll bet you see lots of wildlife up there.

  10. Great platter, Linda. I really like the contrast of the white on the dark clay. What did you use?

    We had an opossum litter under our porch one year. They would come out and roll a chicken egg around trying to eat it. They were cute but got to be pretty stinky as they grew up.

  11. Hi Barbara, thanks. I just used plain white stoneware slip. I hope it doesn't burn away. After the bisque, we shall see. A friend of mine was telling me I should get some white mason stain to add to the slip to keep it bright white - not sure what will happen.

    Wonder why they were stinky, perhaps they don't clean their fur like a cat does, or just having that many around and their excrement added to the smell.

  12. Love your opossum platter, Linda! I learned a great deal about them when I tried to rescue one that was hit by a car last year. The mama didn't make it but her baby did. Afterwards, I sculpted a small opossum from porcelain as a memorial to her. They are, indeed, remarkable creatures - practically immune to rabies.

    I'm so glad you were treated to the opossum's appearance & equally glad that it inspired you to capture the moment in clay. With all the fruit you have on your homestead, its little wonder you don't have hundreds of them!

  13. Love the platter and can't say I adore them though, not very fond of little itty bitty mice either :)
    I have know Idea other than cocunuts that grow on plam trees hummmm?

  14. maybe you have an opposum sanctuary there? There are plenty of opossums in NC. what adventures you have there.

  15. Hi Becky, thanks. I guess an opossum platter wasn't that unusual after all but at the time I was wondering what everyone would think of my putting a mammal on a platter. Another animal you have rescued, what a good person you are. I feel we are kindred spirits because of our love of animals. Thanks so much for taking the time to send me the photo of your possum sculpture. The possum you sculpted from porcelain is absolutely beautiful I just love it. It has the most wonderful expression in the face the same look I saw on the one in my front yard. You should post the photo on your blog and you should also make more of them, especially with the babies on the back. Today I was thinking of making a matching platter with another possum with babies on the back. While I was researching possum on the internet I saw lots of photos of them carrying their young on their backs. One photo showed the mother with six or seven large babies and I couldn't believe she could even walk with all the weight - she did look a little squatted down, poor devoted mother that she was. Thanks again.

    Hi Mary, thanks, if you would have seen this one in person and looked into it's sweet little eyes you would have thought it was cute. I think it was a juvenile since it wasn't that big.

    Hi Amy, all the creatures are welcome here, well except maybe the gophers, but the owl and hawks get plenty to eat because of them and occasionally the blue heron and my cats get a snack too. It is kind of amazing what I can see all from one small area here where I live. I am truly lucky to be here. Thanks for stopping by; have a wonderful trip to visit your family.

  16. Linda, what an absolutely gorgeous platter!


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