Friday, May 23, 2014

There is a Skunk Out there!

Tonight is going to be a sleepless night I think.

The night is humid, unusual for this part of California. I live on the brink of a  desert you see. Nights are often cool if not cold and the air is normally very dry. But tonight I can hear an owl hooting outside my open but screened window and there is a soft rustling from beneath my zuccini plants. The air is also filled with the thick scent of skunk.

Leif, my black labrador retriever and guide dog, is blissfully snoring in his sleep. But I am here, wide awake and waiting for a chance to sleep.

Skunks are pretty common in my yard. I live at the edge of town, just yards from open fields and a dry creek bed. It seems that the skunks come in from the fields to pickover my neighbors cat's food. A couple of my neighbors have cats, some of which use my house to sleep in during the heat of the day. Leif  doesn't pay much attention to them, and they mostly ignore him too.

But the presence of cat food is of course very attractive to the local skunks who would possibly even die without the added suplement to a meagre diet of frogs and maybe the occasional snail. Humans water their lawns, build garden ponds  and such, turning this part of the desert green and feeding the cute but smelly little critters in the process.

If you have never smelled skunk it is not an unpleasant odour in moderation.

As they go about their business, they smell of sulphur. Strike a match just enough to make it sputter and spark, it will produce a thick sulpherous smelling smoke, this is pretty close to the calm smell of a skunk.

When panicked or feeling threatened  though the skunk squirts a thick oily liquid from glands under its tail. This is a million times more pungent than their normal scent. It will make you vomit in seconds and doesn't even have to land on you to make your eyes water and nose run and you will stink for days.

So where normally I might consider going outside to sit on my porch in the dark to wait for sleep to come, tonight I am here typing away

With a skunk out there. I am staying safe inside. Tonight the night can belong to the owls and skunks.

Goodnight friends.