I ONCE INTERVIEWED Eric Orff about strange animals roaming around my small backyard, and the noted NH wildlife biologist chuckled but taught me something I’ve always found hard to believe:

“There are more animals in southern NH (than way up north) because of soil conditions, diversity of habitats and an abundance of wetlands.”

Maybe that’s why I have a new friend giving me a little side-eye. It was around 8:30 in the evening when I saw something resembling a skunk wiggle under my backyard fence and scurry through my flower garden. Oh, no. Please.

Then, I caught it walking slowly by my back steps. I was inside on my porch behind the glass door, barely 8 yards away, when our dark eyes met.

Freak me out! What the heck is that?

A pandemic opossum (just making light of the alliteration).

By the way, possums are found in Australia, and opossums are found in North America. The “o” is silent.

I saw the curly, long, hairless tail, white large head resembling a rat, jagged fangs and furry body of a salt-and-pepper tone.

I had never seen an opossum up close. It was about the size of a cat and stared at me, frozen. Then I did what scared, stupid humans do. I banged on the door, frightened the poor thing, and it scampered away under my deck.

Everyone else around here has been complaining about the chipmunk invasion, but instead, I have marsupial madness.

The coronavirus pandemic has created significant mental and physical stress. Maybe this is all a bad dream because things just don’t seem the same in any shape or form.

For example, the manager of a large supermarket chain confided in me that a customer was going through the checkout line unmasked and the kind cashier told him about the mask policy and politely asked him why he wasn’t wearing a cloth covering. He defiantly replied, “Why should I, when I’m packing this?” or words to that effect.

He meant a gun.

Here’s another from the pandemic land of bizarro. There’s a new panhandler in town, but I will not disclose his location. I cannot remember what the cardboard sign he’s holding says, but he looks exactly like Prince Harry. No, there is no delightful British accent.

Am I dreaming?

Don’t laugh. Sleep experts from several research teams across the globe, including one from Harvard University, have been studying our coronavirus nightmares.

What they’re finding is that “pandemic dreams are being colored by stress, isolation, and changes in sleep patterns — a swirl of negative emotions that set them apart from typical dreaming,” according to an article in National Geographic.

Here’s to more pleasant zzzs, everyone.

Joan Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.