On we go, tromping along the dark path. It's easy to believe we have really turned into owls; the children's eyes are wide as can be. The first thing Mr. Possum does is ask whether we've seen an owl. When we chorus, "Yes, she's back there," he drops to the ground to play dead for a moment before teaching us about his tail, which he can hang from, and how mommy opossums keep their little babies in a pouch. He has us hold up our thumbs to see the actual size of a baby opossum. The snapping turtle warns us, "I'm mad! I'm mean! Don't you get near me!" Her foam shell completely covers her body as she sticks out her webbed feet and pokes out her head. Her tail has spikes on it as well.
I'm not sure why, in this culture, we scare our children and then laugh and tell them not to be scared. I have clear memories of Halloween as a child that are un-pleas-ant. But I've finally found an activity that can absolve all that bad juju. It's good family fun, without the blood and gore. Especially if that possum stays out of the road.
Leslie Science Center hosts another Animal Haunts trek on Saturday, October 29.
[Review published October 2005]