I wrote a blog entry a couple of years ago about the possum problem in our house and garden; there are certain animal lovers who have not spoken to me since. Though the murder plot didn't come off, there was a lot of premeditation, and for possum offenses no worse than being ugly and waking us up nightly with hisses, rustlings and mating clicks. But now the situation has become worse by several orders of magnitude.
The other night I was minding my own business, heating up some leftovers for dinner on top of the stove. I had just stirred the pot and returned to the living room when the stove exploded. The Le Creuset pot flew up and over the island and landed upside down; the burner apparatus and grills likewise, the oven door blew open and wisps of insulation streamed from the joints. The neighbors came running to see if we were still alive.
Alive, yes, but considerably shaken and also dumbfounded. The oven hadn't been on; I had been cooking daily—now I vowed never to go near the stove again. It wouldn't have been pretty if I had stirred that pot a few moments later than I did. We shut off the gas, cleaned up the mess and went out to dinner. We planned to check out the stoves in the shop on the corner in the morning and when we did, we found a nice one that went better with my dishwasher anyway.
But first we really had to make an inspection. Jonathan pulled the stove out of its slot in the counter. There sat a slightly singed tlaquache in a nest of leaves showing its vicious little teeth—teeth which it had used, in its spare time, to chew through the metal mesh-clad gas line. As a parting insult, when Jonathan drove it out from under the stove, it ran and hid under the dishwasher and he had to disconnect and pull that out, too. The possum finally scurried off into the garden, where, animal lovers, it plots with impunity—for the time being.