By Charles Towne
I have eaten some pretty nasty things in my life, but never skunk. To my way of thinking a man would have to be pretty near starving to eat a skunk, and that’s putting it mildly.
We were camping back on the state land several miles from Gladwin, Michigan up off Lame Duck Road. Lame Duck is aptly named because the darned road is so crooked one might get the idea it was laid out by a gimpy, one legged duck. The area seems to be over-ran with wildlife. Deer are rampant, as are beaver and nature’s clown, the otter. There are black bear in the area but they are wise and secretive, staying away from man. I’ve seen bobcat there, and it is such a delight to lay in your sleeping bag on a moonlit night and hear coyotes singing over yonder.
It was late fall and the nights had turned frosty so the skeeters and no-see-ums were no problem. In other words, it was near onto perfect for just being, and enjoying life.
We let the fire die down, crawled into our sleeping bags, and the next thing we knew it was morning. It was so peaceful in my sleeping bag and I was trying to see fit to crawl out and start a new day when I heard something outside my tent. There was a clunking sound, some scurrying around, and then a thud. Suddenly one of the other campers must have climbed out of his tent. I heard him say, “Hey! What is that! OH NO, A SKUNK!”
Curious, I pulled on my pants and shoes and unzipped the door to my tent. Sticking my head out, I didn’t see anything, so I stepped outside.
“Where’s the skunk?” I called.
“He was just outside my tent door a minute ago!” A camper called, “And I think there’s something wrong with him!”
Just then something bumped against the back of my left foot. I no longer needed to find the skunk, it had found me, and there was a tin can stuck on its head.
(Skunks are really charming little critters. One time I found myself surrounded by a family of skunks. The little mama was taking her babies for a stroll and when I saw them I froze. Due to the fact that their eyesight isn’t the best, I have found that imitating a tree is the best defense against skunks. The little mama wandered over to me and I guess she concluded that I was a rock because she sniffed at my shoe, tugged at it trying to turn it over to see what delicious bugs might be hiding there, but then, unable to move the rock, she led her brood of skunkettes away, and I began breathing again.)
Skunks are scavengers, and this little guy had been hunting for something to eat, and finding a can that some other campers had carelessly discarded in the woods, smelling some enticing odor, it had jammed its head into the can, thus becoming trapped.
Without giving it a second thought I reached down and grabbed that can and lifted the can with its accompanying skunk off the ground.
The skunk was pushing at the can with its little front paws and it was running in place with its hind feet and going nowhere fast.
Then I thought, “What is this little guy going to think when his head comes out of that can?”
No sooner the thought than the deed, for just then his head popped out of the can, and the skunk dropped to the ground.
When it hit the ground, Mr. stinky squatted, and raised that banner of a tail threateningly.
Imagining that I was about to be anointed, I froze, and made like a tree.
The skunk, detecting no movement on my part, looked around, and walked closer. Then it looked up into the tree’s face as if to say, “This is your lucky day, Buster!”
Finally, without a backward glance; that black and white tail held proudly over its back, it ambled away. And it didn’t even say thanks.
Sometimes it is good to just remember the father’s words, “Be still and know that I am God.”
AN OUTDOORSMAN’S PRAYER
“Dear lord, help me to remember that it is just in the skunk’s character to spray before thinking and stink things up. When I am dealing with your children, sometimes it is good to remember that folks are sometimes like skunks, they can respond in ways that are not always pleasant. I want my life to be a sweet odor to you father. I don’t want to offend you or your children so help me to be patient and kind and always think before I respond. I love you father, and I know that you love me. Thank you Papa, I ask this in Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.”
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.