Many thanks for the Home Forum story (June 25) on opossums [``Something munching figs'']. Several years ago I started leaving plates of dry cat food outside for our cats during the cold months, and I soon found that a family of opossum had discovered it (as had a neighbor's dog and a huge raccoon). We've spent many an entertaining hour observing these quiet unassuming creatures (as have our cats, usually from the top of the porch table). We have found them to be polite, sometimes funny -- as when the very young ones stand in the middle of the plates and try to eat around themselves. They are not greedy; they always leave a little for the next ones. A drink of fresh water is always next and then they amble back to the woods. Some nights we'll have only 1, sometimes 3 or 4, but we always look forward to a visit from these shy inhabitants of our backwoods. Margery F. Desnoyers Roanoke, Va.
``Marcos's talk of American troops,'' [June 6] states ``. . . the joint mutual defense agreement could be used to justify calling upon US forces to help put down an internal dispute.'' Considering the background of the struggle, and the number of people eliminated by both government forces and rebels, I find the term ``dispute'' singularly inappropriate. Nevertheless, to use US forces to shore up a discredited regime would be a disaster. Tara Wolf Forest Ranch, Calif.
We enjoyed the article ``Fresh salmon and peas for Fourth of July,'' June 26. The writer noted that the salmon were long ago turned away from New England rivers. We thought you might be interested and pleased to hear that the first two Atlantic salmon in 200 years have reached Bellows Falls, Vt. Bellows Falls is the site of a new fish ladder on the Connecticut River. Everyone is very pleased and welcomes them home. Jessica and Craig Leggett Brattleboro, Vt.
Thomas V. DiBacco's piece on the Great Seal of the United States (``Ben Franklin favored a turkey,'' June 20) translates the Seal's Latin words novus ordo seclorum as ``A New Cycle of Centuries.'' A seal-design committee including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin surely would have rejected such a turkey of a trans- lation. A more appropriate rendition: ``A New Order of the Ages.'' David J. Steinberg Alexandria, Va.
I was delighted to see the Summer Reading list for 3-to 12-year-olds [May 31], but I was even more pleased when the list for 12-to 18-year-olds appeared [May 30]. We are eager to use this as a springboard not only for summer reading but for the next few years. I was especially pleased with the high quality of your selections. Your suggestions involve a reach -- but one that is well worth making. This will stimulate only a first reading. Later, rereadings will yield much that escapes a reader in this age group. Hilary Callaghan Birmingham, Mich.
Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''