Feed on

Most days, I found the babies in a pile on my lawn.   I’d stand a foot or two away and look at them.

On their best day, skunks are lumpy and slow.   It’s exaggerated in the very young.   As the babies grew more animated they began to react to my presence and it was hilarious.

First, a baby struggled to its feet.  I am indignant it conveyed awkwardly, concentrating on the task at hand.  Ever so slowly it turned its back to me, a series of deliberate,  stomping motions as it maneuvered into firing position.

It took forever. 

You can do it, I urged.

At long last the skunk made the 180-degree turn.  It peered at me myopically.  But, oops!  There was the matter of the tail.  Right, up we go.  This too was time-consuming but at last my little friend was in position and here was the moment of truth.  Show me what you got, buddy.

Again with the waiting, who has this kind of time?   Finally the tiny skunk’s tail trembled and the thing was underway.  Only then it occurred to me:  a baby skunk cannot spray.

“Excellent!”  I told the skunk.  “Well done!”

Weeks passed and the babies grew enthusiastically.  The mother was nowhere to be seen; she was nocturnal and evidently unconcerned.  The babies began to roam; first into the garden or maybe near the woodpile, now on the neighbor’s lawn, now to the end of the street.  One day there were three skunks and soon, two.  I wrung my hands.  Eventually there were none and then one golden day the smell was gone.

A year or two later I opened the door to coax my kitty inside.  He loves to sit on the front porch at night, but never for more than 5 minutes.  It was balmy with a light wind, a perfect night.  Chet was directly in front of the glass door, facing toward the lawn.  But what was that, a couple feet away?  I turned to see a fully-grown skunk, rising from a sitting position.  She scuttled to the edge of the porch and plotched into the bushes.

My mouth dropped.  There was no smell.  No energy of struggle, no fear.  Chester, who’s afraid of kites, neighbor cats and of me when I first get out of the car, was perfectly calm.

In a situation like this, basically an emergency, I go straight to the feel of the thing and there it was:  the two of them had been sitting quietly, enjoying the night.  Was the skunk our old friend, respecting the truce?




3 Responses to “Animal Communication: The Skunk Under the Porch, Part II”

  1. Chris says:

    So last night I went to our trash cans, heard a rustlin’, and muttered to myself, “damn racoons.” No sooner do I have this thought that a HUGE skunk comes meandering out, goes right beneath my legs, and takes off down the path in front of our house. No spray! Didn’t even leave a faint whiff of skunk. I am thanking my lucky stars…

  2. Katie says:

    Oh, that could have been such an unhappy ending–congratulations! And you got to see a huge skunk up close! Well done . . .

  3. Katie says:

    thanks Joe!

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