" Synchromysticism:
The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

- Jake Kotze

August 28, 2019

Possums, Pests and Other Stories People Like to Tell Themselves and Others About?

Click here to listen
Miriam's coat made out of
hand stitched
possum furs
I found a recent podcast from the Dunedin Writers Festival featuring Miriam Lancewood, that I found interesting -
Woman in the Wilderness
I wrote about reading Miriam Lancewood's book 'Woman in the Wilderness' in this recent post along with my thoughts on possums and COINcidences -
How Many Redheads Can Dance on the Head of a Match and How Many Dames Can Be Painted Down-Under?
I met Miriam at the 2018 Byron Writers Festival after a talk she gave about her adventures of living in the New Zealand wilderness with her husband Peter.
Three Queens, a Women in the Wilderness and Sea-lions?
Miriam Lancewood at the 2018 BWF
I can remember sitting there in Byron Bay when Miriam said she killed her first possum more or less bludgeoning it to death in quite horrific circumstances with the intention of cooking and eating it, but it was OK according to Miriam because in New Zealand possums are considered an environmental pest, pretty much like in Australia rabbits are a major environmental pest.
Follow and Kull the White Rabbit?
As if the rabbit problem isn't bad enough
Australia, now
And the weird part was that Miriam was raised as a Vegetarian before hitting the New Zealand wilderness.
I had Dutch neighbours living next to me as a kid and they used to go out rabbit shooting and I have vivid memories of kicking my football over the fence and seeing gutted rabbits hanging upside down being drained of blood into big plastic buckets in their carport, and to me it was like a scene out of a horror movie.
I was just glad that I was good friends with them and grabbed my soccer ball and got out of their yard quick smart.

Years later I did eat a rabbit meal at a local Chinese restaurant remembering my Dutch neighbours love of the meat and their duty of eliminating pests from the Australian wilderness.
That was my first and only time of eating rabbit in my life, after that I stuck to the poultry and fish dishes on the menu.
I noticed as soon as Miriam mentioned the possum killing in her Byron talk that a few members of the audience got up and left the auditorium, maybe out of disgust, or maybe they had another talk they wanted to hear in another tent.
Either way it seemed like a coincidence people got up and left at that point in the talk. 
I found what Miriam was saying a bit hard to take in, as I had a possum living around my home that would come out at night and walk along my back fence with its baby on its back, while she looked for food.
I would often leave vegetable and fruit scraps in my garden for the possums and sometimes catch them going for walk along the fence while I was sitting outside looking at the stars.
In Australia possums can seem like pests when they get into your roof and run around making noise while you are trying to sleep, or by eating fruits and vegetables you are trying to grow in the garden, but they aren't considered a pest like in New Zealand.
In Australia possums are kind of celebrated in beloved children's books and even etched on the national currency and printed on postage stamps -
Stamp of Approval
The author of 'Possum Magic' has even given talks at the same Byron Writers Festival over the years, as books for the children's market seem to be a huge money spinner for authors who hit on the right subject matter and can tell an interesting story about that subject;-)
I find it amusing that in the children's book 'Possum Magic' the author has the possums head off to Sydney to try steak of all foods:-)
The possums eat steak and salad in Sydney?!
It's amazing Vegans aren't holding book burning sessions across the country over this book.
But then again with "climate change" happening right now book burning would be a sensitive issue I would imagine;-)
Another controversial subject in the book 'Possum Magic' is the mention of lamingtons and the implication that lamingtons are an Australian food, as New Zealanders quite wrongly believe lamingtons are their invention;-)
"Due to an April Fools' Day prank in a New Zealand newspaper on 1 April 2014 written by Olaf Priol (an anagram of April Fool), some people believe that the lamington was a New Zealand sweet known as a Wellington which existed before the Australian lamington."
And that above passage was from Wikipedia, so the argument is now well and truly over as to which country invented the lamington:-)
In fact Wikipedia states that the lamington was invented in my home state of Queensland, Australia.
Queensland, Australaia?-)
But if lamingtons weren't enough of an international food fight between the Aussies and Kiwis, Mem Fox brings Pavlova into the mix, as well:-)
"The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.
The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years."
Ironically, the possums discover lamingtons in a casino kitchen in Hobart, Tasmania, not my home state of Queensland, where Wikipedia states they were first made.
The ducks outside my motel room
Wrest Point Casino
There is only one casino in Hobart, which I stayed in myself in 2016 and I used to eat duck quite a bit until I made friends with some ducks at the casino after eating the last duck meal I have ever had since -
My last duck supper in Hobart
at the Casino no less:-)
So, while I'm not a Vegetarian or a Vegan I can't bring myself to eat duck anymore, I would like to think that I would never eat a possum willingly no matter how hungry I was ... but how would I know unless I was starving to death in the wilderness?
We love to tell ourselves stories of just what good people we are and the animals that we would or wouldn't eat -
But there are a lot of hypocrites out there in storyland, including me, who will judge an ex-Vegetarian possum wearing possum eater, while being someone who used to eat meat (or still does if fish and prawns are considered meat), but only of "the right" animals.
Bin chickens (ibis) invading Byron in 2017
Bin chickens (ibis) seem to be all the rage for the right age now in Australian pop-culture, but they too are becoming a bit of a pest in Australian towns and cities.
What Are We Going to Do About the Ibis?
Hmm ... I wonder what they taste like?-)
Take the bin from your own eye first ... or something?-)
Only kidding, I couldn't bring myself to eat ibis, as I bet that they taste like garbage anyway;-)
And as much as I loved reading about Miriam and Peter's adventures in the wild and their insights of living in nature, they were never really surviving by the food they found in the wilderness.
They took three month supplies of such things as flour to cook bread, spices to cook the meat in, lentils, potato flour, plus other tinned goods.
So without the supermarket goods they had to resupply themselves with every three months by hitch-hiking into town and back, they probably wouldn't have stayed healthy ... or even alive.
But it still makes for a good story reading about the stories Miriam and Peter like to tell us about the world they and we all live in;-)
Shaping Life into Story?


  1. Love possum magic! You guys can have the lamington but the pavlova is definitely a kiwi creation :)

  2. OK, and you guys can have Russell back anytime you want.
    But don't go claiming our 'Crowded House' as a Kiwi band, as I can easily change that Wikipedia page, as well;-)