I was just reading Amalah’s blog about the scary geese and that got me to thinking about various scary animal stories. Growing up in the middle of nowhere like I did on a cattle ranch meant that I had a lot of close encounters with a variety of wildlife during my formative years. I remember being stung on the neck by a wasp at age 3. I was chased by cows more than a few times; I stepped on bees at least 5 times (it’ll happen when you walk everywhere outside barefoot, and yes, my parents let me walk barefoot everywhere. It was the country in the middle of nowhere!) There was a rattlesnake in our house once and once there was some kind of snake in the washing machine. I had a tick embed in my neck from which I still have a scar. Probably the most unpleasant wildlife experience for me personally was when my college boyfriend and I drove out to Lake Sonoma and hiked into a secluded area and totally did it on the ground and then we got back in the car to drive home, and I felt a really sharp pain in my boob. I scratched it. It happened again. I said “What the hell IS that?” and lifted up my shirt only to find that a tick was trying to burrow into soft boob flesh. I screamed a little and grabbed the tick and threw it out the window.
But that’s nothing compared to what happened to my mom. See, my mom has never been one for running, and she’s prone to ankle injuries. One time she had sprained her ankle a little so it was swollen, and she was wearing flip flops to incorporate the ace bandage. It was summer time. This skunk had been coming into the yard and eating dog food, and my mom wasn’t very happy about it, so she put some dog food in a big rubbermaid trash can on its side and propped the lid against it with just a small amount of space for a skunk to squeeze through. Sure enough, she went outside at noon one day and the skunk was in the can, eating the dog food.
(You might guess at this point that a skunk looking for food at noon is a somewhat unusual occurence, since skunks are primarily nocturnal, and your guess would be right because it’s not normal for a skunk to be wandering around in broad daylight, particularly where there are also people. It’s indicative of a diseased animal, particularly one with rabies.)
My mom put the lid on the can, turned it right side up, made us go in the house, and started hauling it out of the yard and across the field that was in front of our house. On the other side of the field were some trees, and my mom figured that that was where the skunk lived. So she hauled that thing about a quarter of a mile wearing flip flops with a sprained ankle, set the can on the ground and took the lid off.
Was the skunk scared? Did it run into the forest? No, of course not. It turned around and charged my mom.
My sister and I were watching this whole thing out the window, and we started to laugh.
My mom got frightened. as you do when you’re charged by a skunk, and started to run away, with a sprained ankle, wearing flip flops. Here is my adult-sized mom being chased by this little black skunk across the field, and she’s screeching and totally freaked out and sort of half-limping because of the ankle thing. My sister and I are laughing hysterically. My mom makes it into the yard and into the house and slams the door, and then she yells at us for laughing at her.
The skunk takes his sweet time wandering around the yard, looking for more dog food.
The next day my mom determines it’s OK for us to go out in the yard because we haven’t seen the skunk all morning. We play as usual and my mom runs a load of laundry. A while later she puts it in the dryer and we leave the house to run some errands.
When we come home, my mom goes out to get the laundry and notices a really awful smell. Like, really, really awful, the smell of burned hair and charred meat and just acrid odor. It’s a nasty smell. When my dad gets home, my mom charges him with determining and getting rid of the source of the smell that’s coming from the greenhouse where the washer and dryer are. My dad searches around for a while and finally finds the source of the foul odor. Mister skunk had decided to crawl into the exhaust pipe for the dryer, and either he was taking a nap or he was stuck, and my mom had run a load of clothes through while he was in the pipe and cooked him.
It took a few weeks before the smell was completely gone.