nature / nature

The Skunk

 

Skunk

 

 

The town I live in has been over run by skunks.

They’re everywhere. if you own a dog? The chances are its been sprayed by one.

I was told that if you encounter one and it’s getting ready to blast you? You’ll know it because the tail raises right before it releases its stank. if you can move fast enough and pin its tail down? you just might avoid getting blasted.

I tested this theory out recently while taking care of my mother in laws dog.

I’m gonna refrain from using his name here, I’m not sure he’d like me involving him.

Upon coming across a skunk on a walk with “the dog.” I startled it.

Now a skunk moves very slowly. The don’t run away. More like waddle away.

I should mention I was as scared of it, as it was of me, I wasn’t looking for any trouble.

We were minding our own beeswax.

Try explaining that to a frightened animal with a brain the size of a pea.

I panicked dropping the dog’s leash as the rotten little stinker raised its tail.

It nailed me mid charge squarely in the chest.

Stunned me. can’t describe it. it was awful.

The skunk took off between a couple of houses.

I looked over at my mother in laws dog.

I swear it had this look, like, “What the hell were you thinking?”

I was, after all? only trying to protect him.

I ran home dog in tow, thinking….how am I going to explain this?

Why didn’t I just leave it alone?

It’s a skunk.

My wife bathed me in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid dish soap. which? trust me on this, sounds a lot better than it is. The concoction is supposed to lessen the smell. it did help a little. I guess? Though not enough to be let back into the house.

I had to throw out what I was wearing, and sleep in the garage.

My mother in laws dog got an apology in the morning. me? I got nuthin.

He had to sleep in the garage with me. We didn’t say much to one another.

I’m not going to have to dog sit anymore, I’m pretty sure.

I was told by my wife and mother-in-law I can’t be trusted.

And if we do get to watch the dog?

My wife can walk him. I’ve been asked to stand down. I’m out. done.

Too bad really, Cause I love the little guy. We were friends once. maybe we can patch up our differences someday and move forward. people do it all the time.

Skunks? really? getting to be no ones safe outside after dark. take heed.

They’re out there you know? waiting. watching.

I’m just lucky none of my neighbors saw the exchange. This kind of stuff is not what I want to be known for around town. I’ve already made a few bad judgement calls since we moved in according to my wife. I’m trying to fit in here, honest I am. but we’re talking about a wild animal. and they can be unpredictable. you never know what they’re thinking.

If I could have somehow communicated with it? I would have told it, ramble on little friend, the dog and I mean you no harm. he’s just got to take a leak, and I’m only out walking him because my mother-in-law is out of town.

Alas that would not matter. no words or hopes or prayers would save me on this evening stroll. I was dealing with a force of nature. one that could not and would not be reasoned with.

If only? I had not panicked.

If only? I had not listened to my co-workers advice.

Maybe I would have avoided the ordeal? I really am not the monster I appear to be. I love animals. its true animals sense something inside of us. they have a sixth sense. this animal like other animals I have come into contact with in my life decided that enough was enough. he must pay. there is a bill that must be paid. a debt that must be settled.

I’m not going out after dark anymore. let them tangle with someone else for a change.

I’m through with the animal kingdom for a while. at least for the time being.

I cannot look back on a life of achievement anymore, or of challenges met, or competitors bested.

This obstacle was not overcome. I was.

The Dead Tree

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I didn’t know you needed a permit to cut down a tree?

We should have been more observant. buyers beware. we didn’t know? if we had? we might have tried to work the tree removal into the cost of our house. sometimes, you overlook the little stuff.

On the day we moved in, I stepped out into our backyard to soak up our new purchase. this was both my wife and my first home.

I looked to my left and saw a woman about 60 to 65 years old watering her flowers. she smiled at me. It wasn’t difficult to offer up a warm smile in return. I extended my hand over our common fence and said, “Hi! I’m Robert your new neighbor.”

She took my hand, shook it and said in one breath. “Hi! I’m Linda….Did you know your tree is dead and is going to fall on my roof? you really should think about taking it down.” I turned and looked up at the tree, then back to her. “I……?” she went on with a concerned tone, “I think it’s got the Emerald Ash Borer? The Village Forrester can confirm that for you. You should get a quote about having it removed.”

I continued to smile, nodding at her. “I will be sure to do that, umm? thanks. well?” clapping my hands together. “It’s very nice to meet you, I better go see how the movers are doing?” I turned around walked back into the house.

My wife was unpacking a box in the kitchen. “I can’t wait to meet our new neighbors.” she said smiling at me. I looked at her and thought yeah? well? at least one of them can’t wait to meet you.

One week after we moved in I got to work, first I would need to do some prep work. I got the Village Forrester out to confirm in fact that the tree was dead. during his visit, he never said a word to me about getting a village permit to remove the tree.

I had been living in the concrete jungle for the past 17 years. how was I suppose to know you needed such a thing?

Someone told me, I could save a few bucks cutting down the tree myself. seeing as how we had just plopped down a decent chunk of coin on a down payment on our house. I figured, I got this. how hard is it to cut down a tree? I see them do it all the time on that Discovery channel show “American Loggers.”

Our backyard is more wide than it is deep. so taking this tree down which was at least 40 feet tall. I figured? that with a circumference of about a foot and a half to maybe 2 feet? I needed to take it out piece by piece.

I didn’t want it to fall on our house. my wife pleaded with me to hire a professional, I did get some quotes. the local companies wanted around 3 to 5 grand to remove it. the cheapest quote I got was for about half of that, and we’d have to wait about 2 months before they could fit us into their schedule. I didn’t want to pay the 3 to 5 grand, or wait for 2 month’s to get it removed.

A lot can happen in that time.

You can find a lot of do-it yourself information on the internet these days. after doing my research I was completely confident I could handle this job. so I got to measuring my backyard and plot the path of the tree coming down. very important piece of information for any of you attempting this type of job.

We live in an older part of town in our village so the lot sizes are tight. we have our privacy as there are lots of mature trees on our property. I found that I could rent a chainsaw by the hour, day or week. I would also need to rent tree climbing spurs. as it would be necessary to prune the upper branches first before cutting the trunk. the trick is to stay off the branches as they can be rotted out on a dead tree. some of them were on ours. carrying a saw with you up into the tree is a delicate act in and of itself. one must be extremely careful.

Do I sound like I know what I’m doing? I do? Really?

Turns out I got some of it exactly right. problem is in taking down a tree of this size you need to get all of it right. the smallest miscalculation is not good. once a tree starts to fall? there is no way to stop it. no way at all. No do overs.

How was I suppose to know that the tree wouldn’t fall the way I had planned? The speed and velocity of the tree coming down on her roof was incredible. I truly underestimated the strength of its impact. it happened so fast. CRACK! BOOM! Lucky for me. Linda wasn’t home. Her cat was however. But he’s not talking. No one has seen Mr. Scruffles since. I’m pretty confident he escaped. as they didn’t find any squashed cat remains in the house when they went in to survey the damage.

Linda as you can imagine wasn’t too pleased when she got home and saw what I’d done to her home. it was exactly as she said. the tree fell on her roof.

“I’m pretty sure the tree was there first?” I told her.

“You may not have built the house? but you did decide to purchase it from the prior owner and live there knowing full well that there were trees in the vicinity? and you were the one who left your cat home alone unattended.”

She pulled out her cell phone, “You are in a lot of trouble buddy.”

“Linda? if you remember? I was only doing what you asked me to, cut down the tree before it….”she finished my sentence. …..”falls on my house? YOU IDIOT! Look At What You’ve Done!”

About the time she was taking me to task, she realized her cat was inside. that’s when she stopped yelling.

“my cat.”

Immediately I tried to diffuse the horror of what may have happened by reassuring her.

“I’m sure its fine?….I couldn’t hear any meowing inside after the impact.”

“If it was in peril it would make a noise, right?”

Then I offered to buy her a new cat if Mr. Scruffles isn’t found? she started to dial.

In a half hour, I had gotten three calls, one from her attorney. one from her insurance company. and one from the village. then the police stopped by. I still think she over-reacted a little. after all? she got what she wanted, took the tree down? Didn’t I?

Honestly I didn’t know you needed a permit to cut down a tree.

We got all of the insurance settlements expedited, all of our other legal issues? were thankfully handled out of court.

I’ve told the village that I was still more than willing to pay for the permit to remove the tree.

It’s been little over a year and a half now since the mishap. Linda’s house has been fixed, looks pretty good. new roof, new bedroom wall, new fence, so? all is well. except for the I told you so’s from my wife, and the cold looks I still get from my next door neighbor.

Maybe one day Linda will forgive me? I’m not such a bad guy? given the chance, I can be really neighborly.

I’m just trying to fit in here. It’s not as easy as you’d think.