When Life Hands You Skunks

This week, life handed me baby skunks, so, like any good writer, this means I had something for this week’s column.
When Life Hands You Skunks
Baby skunks on the side of my street.

I had never imagined that my life resume would one day include “baby skunk wrangling,” but, I admit, I have been woefully incorrect about most of the things that would appear on this ledger, so this should no longer surprise me.

For many months it has become apparent that one of my neighbors has black and white fur, four legs, and could be mistaken by really, really, blind people for a cat.  This neighbor has been leaving evidence of its presence in the form of holes under my fence, an occasionally strong body odor, and attracting the attention of my sister’s trusty canine.

It was on returning late one night, that my sister and I spied a peculiar wriggling mass of black and white in the middle of our street, in front of my house.  Cautiously, we inched closer to home, and realized that my neighbor had, apparently had a visit from the stork.

My sister didn’t want to get out of the car.  I asked if she had a camera.

She did.  I took some pictures of the critters and chivvied them out of the street.  Their mother was not to be found, and we had no idea what to do with her little bundles of joy.

As I stood on the street trying to figure out what to do and whether there was any reason to bother with this brood, a few of the kiddos fell into the sewer.

I recalled that a few months ago, nearby, a skunk had been killed and I imagined that that dead critter had been the father of these adorable stinkers, and that they were being raised by a single mother, who had no job, and had been widowed while in the “family way,” and now had seven mouths to feed. I  figured her house had probably been repossessed, and that’s why she was living under the neighbor’s shed, with nothing to eat except scraps from the dumpster. Plus, now three of her children were trapped in the sewer.

While I was busy imaging this tragic tale, an older lady, driving slowly, pulled up. She asked me if I had seen a cat. I told her, “no, but I have some skunks.”

The random-passer-by called her daughter, who had a thing for rescuing critters. Now, there was no getting out of the situation, I was now responsible for helping with the rescue effort.  Within a few moments, “She-Who-Rescues-Things-From-Sewers” arrived with a kitty carrier and a pitchfork.

Sure. A pitchfork was just what we needed.

I can only guess that she heard “zombies” instead of baby skunks. Maybe this is why I’m not known for feats of rescuing, because I don’t own a pitchfork.

The two of us hefted the sewer grate up, and while I held it, “Rescue-Critter-Ranger” jumped in and put the three babies into her carrier.  We gathered up the remaining babies, and released them to my backyard.

Now, of course, as their particular odor wafts into my house through the open window, I’m wishing I’d come up with a better idea, and taken them to an open space area miles from my house.

I suspect I was caught up in the drama of the widow with seven babies, and no food, and no home, so it seemed the best solution at the time. They are my neighbors, after all.

If you’d like to get Flying Solo, (and just Flying Solo) on Sundays via e-mail,  you can Subscribe to Flying Solo