I have seen many dead skunks on our local roads lately. Had I asked my grandmother what kind of sign this was, she probably would have wisely said “it’s gonna be a bad year for the poor critters.” I recognize and understand the profound wisdom in that statement. Nevertheless, it seems like the mortality rate here in late Winter and early Summer is abnormally high.
When I was a child, my father would incorrectly refer to the foul odor on the highway as the result of a “polecat.” Later in life I would realize that a “polecat” was an animal similar to a ferret. One fact was certain, if we passed a dead skunk we would surely smell the foul odor for many miles on down the highway.
Skunks have always been considered a nuisance up here in the Boston Mountains. No one looks forward to an unannounced meeting with one. Maggie and I encountered a pair of them that had found the crawl space under our front porch a cool place to hang out. After peppering the crawl space with mothballs, they retreated back into the woods, whence they came. Our encounter was overall very uneventful. Many of our neighbors have not been so lucky. I found two interesting facts about “Mister” skunk. First, his vision only allows him to see about ten feet around him. This might explain why there are so many carcasses on our local roads lately. Second, skunks are a honeybee’s worst enemy. They even teach their young how to attack a bee hive. Their thick coat keeps them safe from angry bees and their potent stingers. “Whoderthunkit?”
I am a loyal fan of the musician Loudon Wainwright III and have amassed a trove of his recordings over the last 40 years. His “hit to be remembered by” is an eclectic song named “Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road” from 1972. Anytime I pass a dead skunk on one of our local roads, I always find myself singing his silly song.
“Take a whiff on me, that ain’t no rose!
Roll up your windows and hold your nose
You don’t have to look and you don’t have to see
‘Cause you can feel it in your olfactories”