All fall and then again starting mid-April, I would look out the kitchen window onto the patio, and see either a big possum or a big raccoon wandering around in the dark, scarfing up the last of the bird seed. During the dead of winter, the possum had the patio all to him or herself, since the raccoon was taking that long nap.
I wondered whether they had secret signals that let them know when the other one was already in place, so they could avoid each other – and I wondered what would happen if they both turned up, same place, same time.
A couple of nights ago, they did. And I had thrown the bird seed out in a tight pattern, so as to make sure the birds and squirrels were concentrating their traffic in an area where I wanted to wear down the greenery growing up between the bricks. The two began their dance, eating their way towards each other, and then backing away. They were nearly nose to tail several times, which made them skittish. But when suddenly nose to nose, there were aggressive moves and hostility. The possum backed up first, found some seed under the patio table, and moved off.
It seemed that they could eat side by side as long as there was ample food – but they did not like feeling like the other was in their territory, face to face, when resources felt scarce.
I love having my own private nature observatory.