Inspiration

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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Be still and know I am God, act like a tree! Reminds me of when I was a child and grandpa took me in the woods and taught me to ” sit still and shut up! “! Sometimes there is a lot to be learned from stillness!

  2. What is the remedy to remove skunk smell if a person gets sprayed by the stinky? Are there any skunks here in Florida? Just wondering…..

  3. Oh Mama Mia, the only sure fire eradicator of essence of skonk is to bury the poor victim and then after six months dig him up, the only problem is he will still stink. Time is the only real cure. Tomato juice doesn’t help a bit, believe me, I know from personal experience. We have two skunks in Florida, the striped skunk and the spotted skunk. The spotted skunk is smaller, about half the size of the striped skunk. The striped skunk was at one time common in central Florida but due to a disease kill off several years ago he is now quite rare in our area. The spotted skunk is common up in the Ocala area. The skunk is really an endearing little guy until he decides you are a threat, in which case he is like some people and will go off half cocked in which case, YOU ARE IN TROUBLE!.

  4. Richard, sounds to me your grandpa had some moxie! The “make like a tree” thing works real good except when it doesn’t. Most animals are attracted to motion but out in the wild there are exceptions to every rule. Chaz

  5. I have never seen a skunk in the wild anywhere, and I don’t think I want to either…LOL People trap them in steel claw traps, is what I understand, in other states. So cruel. I detest that sort of thing on any of God’s creatures. Plus any kind of animal can fall victim to getting caught in those cruel traps. Do you know what kind of disease wiped the striped skunks out here in Central Florida? I see armadillos around town here, digging in yards sometimes, and have seen them as road kill. I understand they carry leprosy. I used to think armadillos were just a Texas critter….LOL Thanks for the outdoorsman’s prayer Mr. Towne, and I liked the part in the prayer about folks are sometimes like skunks…..hahahahaha! I used to hear people refer to skunks as pole-cats, are they same? I know you know all this stuff….LOL

  6. Dear Mama Mia, Sure, I know everything and I am a veritable wealth of mis-information. I expect that what killed off the skunks was a terminal case of road-kill-itis. Florida was the first state in the union to outlaw the steel, leghold trap. It isn’t so much the steel traps that are cruel, it is the people that use them. There was a day when trapping was a way of life, it was how some people made a living but not so much any more. A wise man once said, “every creature is better alive than dead, men moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life it than destroy it.” Chaz

  7. It irks me to know that the National Wildlife Refuges allow these steel claw leg traps to be used, and the animals caught in them suffer horribly, and die a slow painful death, and these federal lands are set aside for the animals as a refuge, right….. Yeah, probably lots of animals are getting “road-kill-it is”….I have seen several black bears hit and lying on the sides of the roads. I guess that is the price of “progress”. Thanks for your response, Mr. Towne. As always, Mama Mia

  8. Mama Mia, when enough people raise their voices against an evil, only then will there be change. It is my sad experience that for most of us we are not stirred for change until an evil jumps up and bites us in the behind. You want to remember that those slow painful deaths you speak of are fashion driven just as much today as they were fifty and a hundred years ago. As long as there are people willing to pay hard cash for elephant ivory for decorations, rhino horns for aphrodisiac, bear gall for faux medicine, and animal hides for vanity, injustice will occur. Chaz

  9. And I suppose it is the same with politics, medicine, and every other area of life, when people seek the easy way, the convenient way, the feel good way, they remain the same and the status quo prevails. Health is the same. We know that most of the time illness can be relieved by proper diet and exercise along with stress reduction but people are obviously brain dead because the average person would rather pop a pill, even when they know the pill has negative side affects. That is part of what is wrong with society, we want an easy way out, an easy, pain free, effortless solution. O.K. I will get off my soap box now before I offend some poor, dumb, deprived slob. Oops, I didn’t really say that did I? Chaz

  10. Right you are, Mr. Towne. I have mountains of mail I get from animal non-profits delivered to my mailbox daily. I am sure the mailman hates me. I read all the about the animal issues locally, state wide, federally, and internationally. There are so many depressing things, that are hard to read, regarding how humans, use, and abuse the various animals on this earth. I send in what I can to help them, and sometimes get so angry, I cry over what I read, and pictures I view. I know these groups are not just trying to get cash donations, as they are truly trying to change the world, but it is overwhelming. I am thankful some people truly care about animals, and don’t want to harm them.

  11. Dear Mama Mia, right you are, animals need our protection but what I find disturbing is the fact that so many people care nothing for people and while fighting for animal rights. Adolph Hitler loved his dogs and would weep if one of them became ill and yet he was responsible for incredible cruelty to so many people, That seems so out of balance to me. Let us help our community to be a safe place for all of God’s children. Chaz

  12. Well, that is true Mr. Towne, about what you said about Hitler, and the fact that he had a heart for animals, but not for people. I, myself have compassion for both some people, not all, and animals too, but to me, animals don’t have a voice to speak up, and they don’t have the hidden agendas that some people have. Another thing is, while Hitler’s unspeakable evil acts cannot be explained, never doubt that the regular everyday person, that might be standing right next to you, or that you think you know so very well, is just as capable as committing equally evil acts also, whether you believe it or not.

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