Saturday, June 25, 2011

The skunk

For some weeks past there has been an occasional pre-dawn visitor to my garden—an especially large and elegant skunk. She sashays slowly across the back lawn, shimmies even. She is industrious but nonchalant, assertive but discreet, imposing but delicate, and above all glamorous. Her tail is long, white and glossy, almost luminous in the half-light. The tapering stripes on her back are the height of fashion. In every respect she outshines the specimen shown above. Browsing for tasty morsels, she gives not the slightest hint of indiscriminate snuffling. There is the occasional tremulous upward flicker of the tail. That is her only sign of quiet satisfaction. I feel she has that rare quality we used to call “poise.” Where on earth did that go, and how can we get it back? Anyhow, I had no idea how glorious mature skunks are, though of course I am aware that you should keep your distance. Alas, yesterday my neighbor Nan Ross alerted me to evidence of a major skunk fatality a little way along Forest Road, state route 122, which Connecticut motorists use with a degree of recklessness that is equal to the worst you may expect to encounter in suburban Cairo or downtown Guangzhou—be warned! Upon further investigation, I fear my beautiful visitor has become road-kill, I daresay not even a statistic, and how very sad I am and sorry about that.

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