Welcome once again to Wild Kingdom, right in my own backyard.
I sometimes forget that in spite of all our added concrete, there are lots of wild critters roaming our canyons and streets at night. I don’t encounter them nearly often enough. And rats don’t count.
Once we had a bunny visit our backyard for a day or two. I have no garden for him to threaten, so we enjoyed seeing him.
A slightly less pleasant Nature Channel moment involved coming face to face with a very cranky, hissing possum dining inside our garbage can. I was unable to reassure him that we were cool and I absolutely did not want that chicken bone back.
And the night we got a visit from a family of hungry raccoons was hilarious and magical for my kids.
Last night, we had a new visitor and he or she made it very clear that he or she was enormously displeased. I didn’t hear the encounter, but something spooked that skunk and the stench was so strong it woke me up.
I had opened lots of windows to greet the warm weather. Every room, upstairs and down, was thoroughly scented. I got mental pictures of a scene from a Pepe Le Pew cartoon, where the skunk is racing madly in circles around my house, spraying as he went.
My first conscious thought was to grab the air freshener and make a frenzied run throughout the house.
My next thought was I might need to sleep in the windowless downstairs bathroom. Fortunately, the air cleaner did its job, as I barricaded myself in my bedroom as if I was fighting a sarin gas attack.
I will, however, put on my big-girl panties and not complain. A little research told me skunks are a formidable form of pest control. I almost jumped up and applauded when I read they eat many of the creepy things you don’t want in your house or yard such as brown recluse spiders, black widow spiders, scorpions, wasps, mice and poisonous snakes. Knowing that, I have posted signs throughout the yard asking the skunk if he needs work, and that I have a full-time position open in our 24-hour buffet.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer happily stocking up on filter masks. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.