Thursday, June 26, 2008

Never have a camera when I need one.

There is a detour on 20 Mile Road while the road is being repaved. We were driving along the gravel detour when we passed an opossum carcass in the middle of the road. Dead animals along the road are not unusual here. What was usual was seeing the carcass moving. Backing up we found a baby on top of the carcass. Bill parked the car in the middle of the road and got out to check.

Yep, a baby opossum with more babies hanging out the mother's pouch, their heads still attached inside, their mouths suckling their dead mama. What to do? I have seven cats who would love opossum lunch. Several cars slowed and cautiously move around us, one driver saying to throw the critters in the ditch. Sorry, we stopped, can't do anything but help now.

While Bill called on his cell phone to find a shelter, I got a box and put a towel in it. Items easily found in my car's messy trunk. I used gloves found in the same source to remove the babies, counting bodies as I put them in the box. One on top, one moving around outside the pouch, seven sucklings. Into the box they went, hissing and snapping. The pouch still moved. Three more babies (6" long) opossum curled up inside. Once the babies were removed, I moved the dead animal to the side of the road. We headed for the DNR. They don't do anything but had the name of a woman who rescues wild animals.

Ann had come home from a week's camping trip to feed some raccoon babies and said yes, she'd take the baby opossum. When she saw them, she said they were bigger than she expected, and they should have no trouble surviving. They could probably already eat solid food like a canned dog or cat food. Placing the babies in an old aquarium, she put the aquarium on the front seat of her truck and told us she'd take them back to her campsite to watch them. Once they are ready to survive on their own, they'd be released at a safe spot.

This year, or perhaps next, will be Ann's last year rescuing animals. The DNR demands that she take a class out of state and pay for it and the book she needs. She is already paying for her cages and food to feed the animals. This is outrageous. We have thousands of wild animals of every ilk killed on our highways every year, but no one is interested in saving the few who escape? The state can't pay for the extra training for the few people who do this type of thing? They must take classes and pay for everything themselves?

I guess it won't be too long before we are hauling the living carcasses to the side of the road to die.

My only regret was not having my camera with me to take a photo of the twelve babies. I'll probably never have another opportunity to see opossums this close.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Changing Genres

I'm comfortable writing science fiction and fantasy, creating new worlds, imagining new technologies, but I decided to try writing a contemporary romance. It has been more difficult than I imagined.

Not because it is a romance and I'm not a particularly romantic person, but because I'm trying to reflect the real world. Maybe my mind doesn't meld with the concept of creating a world that is set in a place as complex as reality with all its intricacies that we accept but with which we aren't always familiar. You think you know because you live in this world, but when you go to write about different facets of contemporary society, you find you don't know as much as you thought you did. I've found stories set in contemporary settings need as much research as historicals, and yes, science fiction and fantasy.

No matter how long you live in this world there are always some aspects of it with which you will be unfamiliar. Part of the work of writing is making those instances believable, perhaps showing the reader some part of the world they've never experienced. And that is true no matter what genre you write.