Yesterday afternoon, when I got home, I opened my car door and immediately was washed over with the smell of cow manure. We live across the road from a large pasture and at this time of the year, there is a lot of cattle grazing there. The breeze was blowing just right—talk about “in your face!”
That reminded me of something else. Last week, Sherod and I were in the den watching TV in the late evening. Although it is Mo’s habit to go have a nap before going to bed, he hadn’t done so yet; he was draped across Sherod’s feet. Tux was snuggled into her favorite cushions on the sofa. All of a sudden, she was like something out of a cartoon, seeming to leap straight up, right out of a deep sleep. She began to bark ferociously and Mo followed suit. They kept running back and forth between the back door and the windows in the den and they would. not. stop. I finally decided to let them out and as soon as I opened that door, I knew what had them so upset: skunk. Lord have mercy, the smell. In that split second after opening the door, those two had gone tearing out and now, my fear was they’d get sprayed and then what would we do???!!! The skunk must have skedaddled fast enough to avoid having to let loose that smell.
The next day, I stood and talked to Mark, our friend who keeps his horses, Gus and Jack, with us. He comes over to feed them regularly so we stood in the pole barn for a quick visit while the horses ate their oats. Mark worked for the state as a biologist until he retired and is our local expert on wildlife; when I told him about the night before, he just kept saying, “Boy, you lucked out! They say try this and try that if your dogs get sprayed by a skunk but I am here to tell you there ain’t nothing you can do because it is absorbed into the skin and into the hair and it’s just nasty.”
Then he said that I should tell Sherod he needed to reconsider his armadillo trapping plan. For several months, our back yard has grown increasingly pock-marked, with small holes about 4 inches across and maybe 3-4 inches deep. That back lawn has been beautiful in the past and it has been making my spouseman nuts to see all the damage to that pristine lawn of his. He decided the holes looked like the work of an armadillo so he set up a trap. In case you don’t know, armadillos are blind so you set up these two by fours in a V-shape with the trap at the point. The armadillo ventures into the V, doesn’t know to turn around and ends up getting stuck in the trap.
A few months ago, there was a big old armadillo in the trap who (we thought) benefitted from our mushy hearts and was relocated far down the road in a pasture not close to any homes. When we told Mark what Sherod had done, Mark with his wildlife experience told us an armadillo that’s moved like that can’t make it in a new location and by law in our state you are supposed to kill it. I’d been sweating the thought of a new armadillo discovering a whole new meaning to finding oneself at a dead end. Turns out, skunks love to dig for grubs and Mark thinks there’s a good chance at least some of the digging is the work of the skunk. Unlike armadillos, skunks do ok in a relocation program so Mark suggested a can of cat food in the trap. We’ll see how that goes. If the Mallowman gets sprayed, he’s sleeping in the pole barn!
I don’t imagine I’m different than most everyone else: we become habituated to the space we occupy, take it for granted, and when newness has worn off, stop realizing just where we are. Now and then, by God’s grace, we are caught up short, made to stop and see, really see, where we are. So this week, I am mightily aware, can say with absolute certainty, “true this: I am now country.”