As late afternoon was transitioning into dusk the presence of a skunk was detected in the most obvious of ways, thinking one of the hounds might have cast discretion aside and paid dearly for it I decided to investigate.
Little ones were eager to join the posse and women hurriedly bundled them up until they reminded me of the younger brother in the movie A Christmas Story.
I had already gone outside and saw neither the skunk or an embarrassed hound, but little ones being little ones wanted to investigate as well having undergone the rigors of being winterized.
No sign of the skunk, and the wind, what there was of it kept changing directions as the mood struck it, so we began casting about for tracks and in short time found some leading off into the woods.
Being fresh and knowing skunks tend to amble along investigating things as they go we set off in pursuit with an opportunity to provide an additional lesson in tracking with women in blankets standing at the door good naturedly admonishing us to be careful as it would be cold if we had to sleep outside.
Five or ten minutes later we sighted our quarry and while remaining a respectful distance watched as the skunk went about doing what skunks do.
The oldest of the little ones not yet five asked me if the skunk knew he smelled and I replied since it was natural for them I doubted it, and in fact skunks may feel as though we smell.
That kind of startled this little one and began a conversation about scent, I explained that all things have a scent from the land to trees, flowers, animals, and gardens, and then asked what smelled good to them, which kind of opened the floodgates from pancakes to wet dogs(?).
We talked about how dogs will roll in something dead and they wanted to know why? I explained that long ago before dogs became domesticated they did so to mask their own scent for hunting purposes and it was something of a carry over from those times.
Thinking about that they asked if people should do likewise when they hunt?
I believe there may have been a time when they did and some today will attempt that with purchased sprays etc but I didn’t think it was necessary.
Only natural that the discussion would evolve into what smelled bad, and try as they might they couldn’t find anything comparable to skunks but it produced a lot of laughs.
I’ve never had the dubious distinction of being a skunk victim though I know others who have, a great remedy as odd as it may sound is a liberal dousing and scrubbing with catsup or tomato sauce.
I’ve been told kerosene works well but doubt anyone is interested in bathing in kerosene.
I’ve got nothing against skunks and respect their place in the natural world while giving them a wide berth – a good idea if everybody did.
I think children are as much a learning experience for adults as life and the world is for children – always something new.