I bet you like me would never have thought that a skunk would give a person a valuable lesson or message.
On Saturday September 28th at approximately 2 AM I awoke from a sound sleep to the overwhelming pungent odor of a skunk having sprayed something which I thought must have been a nocturnal battle between a skunk and some other animal because it had to be an all-out attack of some kind as the windows were all sealed up tight, so for that odor to permeate the home inside to such a degree meant the skunk had to have released “all its got” upon the adversary. I put on the AC to cut down on the odor and went back to sleep. After waking again around sun rise I got up and made some breakfast for both me and my dog and soon after instead of heading outside for a morning walk I instead decided to make a trip to the super market early, and on the way back would stop at a discount store to buy some suet cakes for the birds because I had ran out of them and like to put them out for all the birds that come around my home.
I was just getting back after the errands and pulling up in front of my house when suddenly this guy who also lives in the area and walks by often with his Chihuahua yelled out, “hey Lawrence I just saw this skunk over there near that old car,” which is parked by a neighbor’s home and some open space next to some large hedges separating the properties. I told him thanks for the heads up and went on into my house to get my dog so we could have a morning walk, when I noticed that another neighbor down the road had come outside and was talking to the fella that advised me of the skunk which in turn led these other neighbors to call the police who dispatched an animal control officer. When I got back from the walk the animal control officer was looking around near the old car so I put my dog in the house and went out to talk with the officer! I told her that over the years I’ve noticed the occasional skunk or raccoon during the twilight or early morning hours in the area mostly foraging and then as suddenly as they appear they usually disappear probably moving on as they tend to just pass through the area. I mentioned how during the night hours I had woken to the skunk odor so maybe some animal tried to tangle with this skunk and this skunk will probably just be moving on, but that I’ll keep an eye open during the day just in case; if there is an issue with this animal I’ll let them know. The officer looked around a bit more and then she decided it looked like that may have already happened and the skunk disappeared.
After I had gone into the house and taken care of a few chores inside I again headed out to do some chores around the property so with my dog by my side we went out front when suddenly I saw the skunk heading toward us from across the road. I quickly brought my dog inside to avoid her becoming agitated and of course didn’t want to get the skunk feeling threatened and possibly my dog or me getting sprayed. After putting my dog inside I went out to investigate and suddenly the skunk started out from some large shrubs along the front perimeter of my home heading straight for me as though it had intent on coming right up to me! I’m very friendly with all of the wildlife in the vicinity of my home and especially in the winter when the animals are stressed with the ground frozen and covered with snow I like to put out seeds and nuts for them at the base of trees so that any squirrels, rabbits, birds or whatever little critter is hurting for a meal can stop by for a free one. Sometimes when out there putting out a few treats with my dog, as I often do I will be talking to my dog and because the animals know my voice and scent of course they start coming out or down from the trees and approach me, but not usually the skunks because they are more nocturnal and we don’t even have much opportunity to run into each other except on an occasional evening when I might be sitting out back with my dog who is very used to accepting all the animals well enough to sit calmly with me and won’t budge unless I say to. During daylight hours sometimes a squirrel, rabbit or bird will practically come right up to us and be looking for a treat. But with this skunk I knew this wasn’t the reason it approached especially during daylight hours, so of course I knew something was wrong but because there is the potential of the animal being rabid I had to be stand offish, along with the possibility that some other factor of territory or fight/flight reaction was in play and I sure didn’t want to get sprayed. That actually happened to one of young dogs long ago and in just washing the powerful odor out of my dogs coat I became as permeated with it for days, a lesson well learned so as not to let my pup go running into a neighbor’s property when off the leash doing some business and tangle with a skunk that I hadn’t seen but the dog did!
But, what I became aware of as this all unfolded and I watched from outside and when inside my home as well, was that the odor at 2 AM wasn’t due to a fight between animals but that this frantic skunk I had been observing had in fact had a mate that was hit by a car during the early morning hours and that the injured skunk had somehow crawled off the road after being struck or the mate dragged her into these bushes that I was now beginning to notice him doing as the afternoon progressed but he was actually dragging his dead mates body under the old car and once there he began digging, I’m sure to cover her from the predators or any scavengers which was heart breaking to watch. I decided right then to help and knew I needed some mint oil I could buy at a local Ace Hardware store so I jumped into my Jeep and drove there right away! While there I ran into a guy I used to be acquainted with who worked for an International Corporation that I used to work for and we just talked about those good old days and how there were lots of great guys we knew working there and got caught up a bit. This guy Jeff knew one particular guy I used to work with out on the road driving interstate for some years on and off and how he was a great family man who also liked helping nature and animals so I felt this all added up to being a God Sent to keep on; that this was the right direction and that God wanted me to keep following this path! We said good bye after checking out of the store and had exchanged numbers so we can talk again sometime.
I drove back home and I went to that neighbor that has the old car parked by the hedges and pointed out what actually had happened in detail now that I had all the pieces to the puzzle and we watched from a deck staircase area as I explained and pointed out where the skunk was. Then as he heard our voices talking he came toward us I’m sure because he recognized this voice of mine like animals do here and I think he was seeking my help or at least something to give him a sense of direction. perhaps even comfort as I’m sure he felt crushed inside to be sporadically traumatized seeing his dead mate; from how peacefully things had been before this fateful previous night. The neighbor hurried back inside wanting to make certain of not being sprayed as I watched the little guy and said, “Just don’t spray me; I’m going to help you with this now.” As he walked around just a couple of feet from me under the wooden steps to the deck I sprayed some mint oil around into the air and near the steps which did act as a mild repellent and he went off toward my property and out of sight behind some fencing. I jumped into action and ran home into my garage and got a shovel and sprinted back to the car because I knew the skunk could be back any moment and being confused perhaps not understanding what I was doing with his mate he may very well instinctively spray me. I had asked my neighbor already if I can retrieve the dead skunk from under the car and could I just dig a hole a few feet down to bury it and probably that will end this dilemma doing us all some good and she said, “by all means sure, absolutely!” I did it quickly and mission accomplished in time, because then as I continued to monitor the situation I saw that the skunk was spending time on my property and then on some adjacent land, which seemed to indicate he may have caught on to my intervention and was making some kind of adjustment internally and felt a good change coming or in the air. Also, after the burial I had ran back home and on my concrete driveway I dossed the shovel with gasoline and lit it up to sterilize it and just as it lay burning which drew most of my attention there to it, the skunk came hobbling or almost lumbering as they do as fast as he could toward me and the burning shovel catching me by surprise. I was a bit startled just as he must have been to see fire dead ahead of him; and never having seen it or known what it is or how dangerous, it still went up to it until the heat and reality of a danger struck him in the face. He didn’t run from it but to my surprise walked as close as he could to it like a fighter to face it and then went around it and on to his continued trek up and around the front of my home as I called to him saying, “its going to be OK now little fella!” As a sister of mine said to me in a conversation about battles we face in life and some I personally have in recent years and how she thought I have brass ones, which I have to say I think the skunk does too or at least he does now after interacting with me for the short time he did, “knowing I was there the whole time to back him up” but still maintaining a distance all the while my watchful eye wouldn’t be going away and ultimately “we worked together” to get through this difficult time and in the process learned so much more about each other!
So night would be coming soon and things were calming down when as I walked around the front of my home toward the road I looked up and perhaps a hundred feet away a man was walking in my direction and yelled out, “hello!” He had a paper in his hand and I said, “what are you selling,” and said, “nothing,” when all of a sudden I realized I know this guy and we used to talk several years ago when he would walk by on his way from his parent’s home about a mile away to one of the Catholic churches about another mile away from my home. I said, “oh wait it’s you John wow; I haven’t seen you in ages and how are you?” He said, “Yes I’ve been away and lived in Boston for a while and still working toward becoming a priest!” I told him, “fantastic and so good to see you again,” so we talked there about the ordeal I just experienced and he said while we talked he saw the skunk just as we began talking and I hadn’t mentioned it yet, so he thought it was like a pet because it got up fairly close behind me as if it was used to me and belonged there, so he didn’t think anything odd of it, as it then went off into the bushes and shrubs. I went on to tell how the skunk kept sadly circling around all afternoon and I buried his mate but he many times during the experience kept coming right at me and John said, “aw he wanted some love,” and I said, “you know you’re right he just wanted to get some consoling and to know he is loved!” I didn’t want John to be late to church so I said, “hey if you don’t mind I’ll take the walk with you to the main road which isn’t so far and going in your direction so then we can get caught up on the way!” We went over some of the major events that had occurred with me and how had to do a lot of studying and work with the church and now was back to stay here at least for a while and we agreed to keep in contact better from now on.
Later after nearly a couple of hours had passed since parting ways with John and nightfall was approaching, when I went outside after having a little dinner and caught the young guy with the Chihuahua again who was walking passed my home, so I had to let him know how it all worked out and how the skunk apparently was adjusting back to his more normal behavior and that he wouldn’t have to be too concerned when walking by that old car with his little dog but just to keep an eye open until we’re sure. I was then talking to this guy about God which actually came up naturally in the conversation and how with faith we get though all things this life can toss our way and God is in charge so we just need to try our best to follow His will. Suddenly coming up on the road behind me as we talked as I had just turned slightly to see if the skunk was still being resolved now as it was getting dark and he may be more prone to show up following his paths again; when who shows up behind me this time not the skunk but it’s John going back to his parents from church. At that instant I said, “and speaking of God as we just were, this is another man I know John,” and introduced them to each other as they shook hands. It seems like the God connection to every bit of this daily journey was complete, but as we all realized it was getting dark and need to call it a day we all said have a good night and John and I talked a couple of minutes and then he walked off.
I went inside my house and got ready to install a new garbage disposal under the kitchen sink and as I got into it I had to stand up and get another tool when I see out on the open property to the rear of my home a dog running like the wind all over the place and noticed a van with the obvious owner standing by it so I wanted to check to see who it was as it was very low light and hard to make out who it was for sure from the distance we were apart; but no matter who, I was going to mention the distraught skunk and to keep an eye open so they don’t confront each other. When I approached I could see it was another old neighbor going way back who I hadn’t seen lately but he has family living nearby even were the skunk had made some paths. Turns out he wanted to see what had happened with the skunk after hearing about it via his relative and brought his dog an Irish Wolfhound for the ride and was letting it stretch its legs as it did occasionally near his own home. I thought there seems to be some freedom and natural order in the air now and this dog just showed us the joy of life that God created to cap off the day!
This led me to of course contemplate the day’s events and again being an animal lover as I am, appreciating all of God’s little creatures and this Joy of Life we and they feel I couldn’t help but focus again on my little skunk friend! How he went from being lost and frantic reaching out to a tough and even cruel world for some help or like John said, “aw he wanted some love.” That little creature went through the full spectrum of emotions or what it is to be happy and sad all in one day! I could now see clearly he had needed to find balance again! But he was feeling so much loss and separation and seemed to be aimlessly wandering and wasn’t; he was retracing all of his recent footsteps and paths that he walked in the night with his companion or mate and was truly stuck in that mode to be doing it in broad daylight when he is a fairly slow moving target for predators or anything else that might come up in the man-made world; but even so he was compelled to search and not give up trying. He like all the animal critters in my immediate area for at least a quarter mile radius know me as the friendly caring human that talked to the wildlife when they are being close up and more personal toward me, knowing I have rewarding treats like getting a free snack the way we humans starting as children to adulthood like a piece of pie or free fruit and candy, so too the animals can appreciate something they don’t get easily on their own or at all; but is so delicious they can’t pass it up. So they overcome general instinctual distrust or fear and give hope a chance to take root.
While this traumatized mammal walked it seems aimlessly over and over again all the trails it followed nightly on its foraging expeditions it was seeking balance and as it saw me out there it kept trying to come to me for what the man John I hadn’t seen in a few years said when he saw was going on; it was “looking for some love,” a helping hand in time of need! Yes, as the animal actually knew of me and didn’t feel lack of trust but believed enough in me to know I would do him no harm he kept looking for me as he went in what seemed circles struggling to make heads or tails out of a horrific traumatic end to his happy relationship with his mate. As the day progressed I did get closer but never so close that I would do what I wanted to do which was to cuddle and pet the little guy and tell him everything will be fine in time you will have a mate again and you will have young kits of your own to enjoy with your mate and help a new generation begin. But him knowing I took care of the deceased mate gave him comfort and he didn’t have that dead body in his face reminding him that something tragic just happened and how ill equipped he felt or was to fix it all. That is us too; without our Creator we are suffering and at other times so happy to be alive and when in doubt or confused and broken in our hearts we seek out the one we know will do right by us and never would harm us, our Maker! We are all learning and helping each other to learn what God wants us to learn, yes even sometimes from a skunk! I see a demonstration in this event of God’s telling us that having Faith is always the key to never give up the ship as the Captain would say and we all know that perseverance and hanging in there is first and foremost to anything that lives so I was there to reassure the little critter in a time of great need and then he was able to carry on and do what God intended he do which is to live his life out as a skunk the best it can and just accept the good with the bad so that the optimum good will be derived from that life and in the end result of all of this world God will have the final say in every single thing, no two ways about it; He is the all-knowing and all powerful Creator who will have His accounting for everything He made out of His eternal infinite love! Trust in the Lord and turn it over to Him so you can each day get up and say, thank You God for all You have given to me and this world, I thank You in the name of Jesus Christ as I have complete faith in You and that You will direct my paths until You are ready to take me from here to where You dwell forever! Amen.
What did the Skunk tell me and You; not Pee–yew!