Friday 10 March 2006

Skunk works

Our house is becoming something of a wildlife reserve. We currently have some kind of rodent living in our basement - it seems to have found its way into the wall gaps, or possibly the heating ducts. This rodent, which seems a bit too big to be a mouse, but a bit small for a rat, joins our longer-term resident skunk (or skunks) that nest under the shed where I keep my bike (under our deck).

I had a close encounter with the skunk last night. When I first realised the skunk was living there (they don't hide their presence well) I tried to block the gap through which it was entering and leaving with a small plank. It kept pushing the plank over. I was reluctant to do anything too drastic like nailing the plank up, just in case the skunk was actually trapped inside. I suspect the one thing that might smell worse than a live skunk is a dead one.
As I cycled home last night I saw a skunk cross the road not far from our back alley. Having crossed the road, it made a bee-line for the alley as I overtook it. I thought "this must be our skunk - it's out, so maybe I can block the hole now". I quickly got into the garden, found the old plank and wedged it in place. Unfortunately, it had been sitting in the rain since December and was now rotten - it broke. Having blocked the hole as best as I could I proceeded to put my bike away. The door to the shed is directly above the hole where the skunk gets underneath.
As I was putting the bike in, I glanced down and spotted a white head sniffing my shoe. I jumped backwards, slightly alarmed. The skunk, fortunately, was similarly surprised and ran off towards our neighbours' garden. A bit of an anticlimax for you the reader, maybe, but it is actually the first positive proof (other than the smell) that it is actually a skunk living in our yard.
Elder was very excited when I told him about this. He wondered why the skunk was trying to get in the hole at the same time I was parking my bike. I suggested maybe the skunk was coming home from work too. And thus I discovered the origin of another bizarre turn of phrase!

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