Popular Woodworking 2003-08 № 135, страница 90

Popular Woodworking 2003-08 № 135, страница 90

Out of the Woodwork

When Possums Attack

Three men and a broom are no match for a marsupial and his pile of lumber.

There are several fundamental requirements to be a woodworker. One needs the proper tools, followed by a degree of skill. Most importantly, though, a woodworker needs wood. Consequently, one of the great pleasures 1 derive from woodworking is that long quest to the lumberyard. Sure, you might be able to find a bland selection of poplar and pine at the home center, but if you want something special you must go the extra mile.

Now, I live in the woods, so I'm surrounded by trees. Yet, for some reason, the only lumberyard within 100 miles is in the industrial district of Newport News, Va. My wife, Helga, also a person of rural descent, is apprehensive about the city. Understandably, she insists 1 make my journey in periods of extreme daylight. So, one morning last month, 1 set off on my most recent expedition.

The sheds at Waterfront Lumber are jammed with lumber of every variety, and I'm always surprised at what I find. A regular customer, I parked the station wagon in front of the oak shed and went to the front office. A nod to the manager and an apprentice was sent to help me load and tally the booty.

The young boy slid back the shed door to reveal the much-anticipated stack of rough oak. Of course, neither of us expected to find the enormous, furry, bug-eyed possum that was sitting there like a cherry on top. 1 turned to the apprentice to comment on our circumstances, but 1 found nothing but a dropped tape measure and trail of dust.

Now, where 1 come from possums are an unwelcome occurrence. In fact, the last one that violated Helga's territory was batted over the fence with a broom. Unfortunately, she wasn't with me and most of my dealings with possums had transpired through a windshield. I decided to follow the boy's lead.

Upon arriving back at the office, 1 caught my breath while the young man painted a disturbingly accurate picture of the beast ...

describing him as a "greasy, red-eyed fiend." 1 nodded in concurrence ... he was greasssy. The yard foreman, a renowned naturalist, set his jaw and delved into the closet looking for the right tool for the job. He emerged with a broom - the expert's tool of choice.

We promptly departed the office and marched lock-step to the front lines, emptying a 50-gallon drum of rainwater along the way. 1n a raspy whisper, the foreman revealed his plan. He would throw open the doors, give the animal a good shove and one of us would catch it in the drum where it could be "disposed of' at our leisure. Needless to say, no one was volunteering for the second part.

When we rounded the corner it became clear that the original plan would have to be altered. The possum now was sitting comfortably in the front seat of my wife's station wagon. As 1 watched the "greasy, red-eyed fiend" glare at me over the steering wheel, 1 realized that the "great circle of life" was now complete. Helga must never learn of this.

1 grabbed the broom and moved forward, intent on putting mankind back in the driver's seat. The foreman rolled the drum to

by Walt Akers

Walt Akers now carries a broom and steel drum anytime he leaves his workshop in Seaford, Virginia.

the passenger side door, we counted to three and flung the doors open in unison. With one tremendous thrust, 1 lunged at the beast. 1t was at that moment 1 recognized the flaw in our plan. This was no ordinary animal. He was a city possum, streetwise and crafty. He latched onto the bristles and wrapped his tail around the broomstick. 1 jumped back with the broom (and possum) in tow.

Now, on the upside, the possum was out of the car . unfortunately, 1 was now the proud owner of 20 pounds of hissing meat at the end of a 4' stick. The spectators backed away quickly, choosing to watch the negotiations from a distance. They were brief.

After running around the car twice, 1 stumbled over the water drum, and we tumbled to the ground. While 1 landed with a thud, his landing was more like a grocery bag full of wet newspaper. The time had come for a deal. As 1 lay there, face to face with the angry possum, we reached an understanding. He would amble back to his oak pile, and 1 would buy a load of walnut instead.

Hours later, as 1 sat at the gas station washing the stains out of my wife's upholstery, 1 realized that Helga had been right. The inner city really was a dangerous place. 1 beat a hasty path back to Seaford . home of the laid-back country possum. PW

88 Popular Woodworking August 2003

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