Happy as a possum in a pouch

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills is talking about getting cozy. While we swelter in the heat of our Australian summer, getting cosy is the last thing we are thinking of. Keeping cool is our current priority. (Note: cozy in North America, is cosy in Australia!)

When I think of cosy, I think of huddling in front of a fireplace, shawl over my knees, cat at my feet, and a glass of wine, perhaps Prosecco, in my hand. This is not something I have ever experienced. It is an image portrayed on Christmas cards, book covers, and in movies.

It’s a bit of a stretch for me to contemplate cosy at the moment, and I wondered how young Australians with little experience of “cosy” might respond to the word.

I asked 7-year-old grandson what he thought of when he heard the word “cosy”. He said,

“Nice and warm in bed.”

His Dad thought there could be no better definition. In fact this is the definition provided by Google:

cosy

I asked grandson if he thought we would want to be cosy in summer and he said, “Well maybe not warm, but snuggly.” I think he did pretty well in defining the word.

Snuggly makes me think of the children in bed as shown in Helen Magisson’s version of The Night Before Christmas. (Look for the interview with Helene on the readilearn blog later this month.)

No doubt you have heard the expression, “snug as a bug in a rug”. Like cosy, the expression refers to being in a pretty comfortable position. I figured that being in a pouch would be about as cosy as a creature could get and, since Australia is home to many marsupials, it seemed a perfect fit for the post.

Marsupials are mammals that give birth to live young before they are fully developed. The young, usually referred to as joeys, continue to develop in the mother’s pouch for a number of months, suckling on their mother’s milk.

feeling-prickly-marsupials

As explained in Feeling a little prickly, Australia is home to almost 70% of the world’s marsupials. Other marsupials are found in the Americas, mostly South America. Kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, possums, wombats, Tasmanian devils, numbats, bilbies, and quolls are among the species of marsupials found in Australia.

Brushtail possums are common in Australia and frequently share our homes as well as our neighbourhoods.

At the moment, a mother and baby have taken up residence in Hub’s carport/workshop. We’re not particularly happy when they share our homes, but I love to hear and see them in the garden. Although I must admit that hearing a male brushtail possum for the first time can be a disturbing experience. I wrote about this in Sounds like …

While possums are not popular in New Zealand and efforts are being made to eradicate them, and other introduced pests, from the island nation; I think they are rather cute. When I was young I climbed everywhere and got into everything and, as a result, was nicknamed “Possum”. (What happened to that inquisitive child?)

I have previously written about some of my favourite picture books about possums, including  Possum in the House and Possum Goes to School in Listen to the sounds, and Possum Magic by Mem Fox in A celebration of Australian picture books #2 – Mem Fox

Possum goes to school2015-09-19-10-55-23

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a cozy story, how could I not write about a cute little possum joey getting cosy in the mother’s pouch. I hope you like it.

Happy as a possum in a pouch

Warm and cosy in mother’s pouch, for months he did no more than suckle and sleep. Lulled by her gentle heartbeat and rhythmic breathing, he barely noticed as she scurried about at night; foraging for food, leaping from branch to branch, avoiding neighbourhood cats, sometimes scouring dogs’ bowls for leftovers, or accepting humans’ sweet titbits. For him, nothing else existed.  Until … one night, a strange feeling stirred inside. He poked his whiskery nose outside. Sniff, sniff. The most delicious scent beckoned him out. Mother offered him something red. Zing! His senses ignited. Milk was forgotten, nightly foraging began.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

67 thoughts on “Happy as a possum in a pouch

  1. Bec Colvin

    I love the FF! It’s so evocative and adorable. Possums are such sweet things. Now that I think about it, I can’t think of any I have seen since being in Canberra. Though I did see an echidna today! And plenty of rabbits and kangaroos and many types of cockatoos! Possums are such sweet little things. Their little faces always remind me of Ziggy – big, cute eyes and a sniffing nose.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so envious of your seeing another echidna! I know you like rabbits, but they’re not so good for our environment. Kangaroos and cockatoos viewing sounds awesome. I’m pleased you find possums, and my flash, cute. Thank you.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’d be interested to know what your grandson thinks, Jules. I should ask G1’s sister too. She’s 5. She wasn’t about when I asked him.
      The seahorses are fascinating, aren’t they? I wonder if their pouches would be cosy. I think the eggs are held in the pouch, aren’t they, and then the young swim away when they hatch?

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      1. julespaige

        That might have been in that link – the info on the sea horses.

        I might ask Little Miss too -She’s about half of Son of Son’s age but very verbal. I’ll be seeing them Saturday – now I just have to remember…

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  2. TanGental

    Can’t think of someone calling out Hello Possums without thinking of your cultural attache in his Dame guise! When we visited a rescue centre and saw joey koalas and kangaroos they were in artificial pouches which was cute. Kids loved them of course. Like Anne the idea you’ve never experienced cosy is a weird one but then I’ve never lived anywhere as sweaty as Queensland. I think my next cat will be called Hygge since they are the ultimate mammals for hunting out the cosy in life. And nicely done with the flash too.

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    1. Norah Post author

      The artificial pouches for rescued joeys are very cute – and snuggly. Hygge is a great name for a cat. (I just have to keep reminding myself how to pronounce it!) I appreciate your comment. Did you get your notifications sorted?

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  3. Pingback: A Hygge Kind of Cozy « Carrot Ranch Communications

  4. Charli Mills

    Maybe we can coin a new phrase — hygge as a possum in a pouch! Your grandson did well to answer your question. I thought I’d be more aligned with an Australian Christmas, but alas, I’m south but still in North America. Possum is a cute nickname for a climbing and inquisitive child, and I do see her often on this very page, leading us all in expanding our minds. Maybe you should go climb a tree once in a while, too! I have to admit though, I’m not so sure I thought of possums as being cute critters until your flash. It has an endearing quality and convinced me of the sweetness of a possum in a pouch.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hygge as a possum in a pouch. That’s good. Why didn’t I think of it! I was trying to think of an alliterative word.
      I’m pleased I’ve encouraged you to think differently about possums. They are very cute and, in their own environment, quite charming.

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  5. Hugh's Views and News

    My niece uses the word snuggly all the time. I’ve even used it in a few of my own short stories.
    Lovely piece of flash fiction, Norah. Certainly gave me the feeling of being safe and secure when I put myself in the place of that baby possum.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Hugh. Snuggly is a great word, isn’t it? Conjures up a lovely warm and comfortable image. I’m pleased you enjoyed the possum story. I had to think very hard to come up with something suitable.

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  6. Steven

    I think you got it right, being snuggled up inside the pouch. It feels obvious but you have also made an interesting observation about the seasonal use of the term cosy. By the dictionary definition, what would “cosy” be in summer?

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Steven. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. I wonder what a suitable antonym for cozy would be. Comfortably cool is always nice in summer, but I’m not sure it does the trick. It needs to be welcoming too. Any ideas?

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        1. Norah Post author

          I also checked for antonyms, but I didn’t see that one. I’m not sure about “cushy”. To me, it indicates an easy job – one that doesn’t require much effort for maybe reasonable pay.

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          1. Steven

            Actually I was thinking more along the lines of what situation would it be to have a “feeling of comfort, warmth and relaxation” during summer.

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                1. Norah Post author

                  Finding that precise word can be difficult sometimes, though. Particularly when we all bring our own experiences and perspectives to interpreting it! 🙂

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  7. thecontentedcrafter

    As always your preludes to the flash are fun, informative and full of wisdom. No cosying up for this half of the world at the moment, but something to look forward to for sure. Of course, I’m not a possum fan. I really don’t appreciate the sounds possums make when they are startled by a cat or something outside the window of my house while stripping my lemon tree bare of all fruit and leaves, it’s just another reason why we don’t like ’em here 🙂 There’s not nearly as many dead possums on the roads as there once were. I hope that is a sign that the populations are decreasing. Plus of course there has been an increase in bird life around here recently, which is an even better sign…….. Give me a wombat any day 🙂

    Happy New Year Norah, I look forward to another year reading your interesting posts full of great ideas, links and thoughts. xo

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Pauline. You know I was thinking about you as I was writing my post and flash, don’t you? It is a great thing that NZ is getting rid of all those exotic pests. I love the birds. How wonderful to have them visiting you in greater numbers. Are you sure you’d like a wombat? They’d probably do more damage than the possums? 🙂
      I too look forward to reading your posts, and to our conversations here or there throughout the year. I see you have posted today but I haven’t had time to get over yet – hopefully will over the weekend. Best wishes. xo

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      1. thecontentedcrafter

        Wombats are rather cute to look at and watch as they go about their lives – I spent ages in the Melbourne Zoo a few years back watching them sleep in their underground dens. Siddy reminds me of a wombat when he gets busy and bustles about……. But you are probably right, all that digging and bustling would be very hard on our flightless, ground nesting, equally as cute and bustling birds.

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        1. Norah Post author

          That’s funny about Siddy. He must be soooo cute as he wombats around. Jackie French certainly makes wombats sound cute and interesting. They are often asleep when I see them in zoos.

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  8. Annecdotist

    Hi, Norah, I had to laugh at your concept of cosy (yes we spell it that way too) being something you’ve never experienced, but glad to see your grandson is keeping you learning!
    I remember you sharing the weird possum sound on another post but good to hear it again – I think you nailed cosy perfectly with that little joey in the mother’s pouch. I loved that Possum was your nickname before that curiosity was schooled out of you but you’re making up for it now with your passion for learning.
    A great start to the New Year with another fabulous post.

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    1. Norah Post author

      It is really surprising how many words the Americans spell differently from us. I’ve found a few in the most recent resources I have been writing: modelling, colour, and favourite. It is a bit of a bind writing early childhood teaching resources for an international audience. How do I spell the words. Naturally I’ve used our British/Australian versions. I hope that, if my US audience finds it bothersome, they contact me and ask me to prepare the resource for them. I don’t really want to have double resources just for different spellings on my site, but would be happy to prepare alternatives if requested.
      What would I do without little children to teach me? I’ve always enjoyed working with them for that reason. They have such a fresh approach to everything.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. The idea was a (very late) flash of inspiration. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it.
      I appreciate your kind words. Thank you.

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      1. writersideup

        Norah, I can’t speak from a teacher’s perspective, but I can’t imagine it would be a problem. I actually like when I see the differences because I love the “Brit/Aussie” form of language 🙂 We also use “z” when sometimes you guys use “s” and things like that. I wouldn’t worry about putting extra work on yourself, honestly. If it’s in English, it’s in English 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you, Donna. You’d think, with this smaller more connected world we live in now, we’d be a little more consistent with spelling. I wonder why the spellings were changed in the first place! The differences probably don’t matter to us adults, but beginning readers and writers can find it confusing and may do less well on spellings test is a word is spelled with the alternative. One has to be sure about which language is set as the default when writing on the computer also. Oh dear. Some consistency would be good. But we all want it our way! 🙂

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          1. writersideup

            Ah, I thought you meant it was stuff for the teachers, not the students! Then yes, it would make a difference if the students were confused, for sure.

            And I’m thinking the written language changed just as the language got corrupted over the years. After all, we should have British accents! And though Aussie accents are much more British, there are subtle differences that make it obvious as far as which country someone is from. It’s amazing how that happens, I think!

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                1. Annecdotist

                  I agree, those spelling differences don’t seem to matter in our adult reading, but might be an issue for children. I think some of the American spellings are actually simpler – not that I’d be inclined to adopt them – but I find the different meaning of words even more striking, but fascinating.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your support, Robbie. I very much appreciate it. I have had other distractions and haven’t been over your way this week. Hopefully will do so soon. 🙂

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