Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Skunks Love Me - Part One

This is going to be a three part series. Look forward to more to come.

Nearly thirty years ago I had my first experience with a skunk, but not my last by any means.

We were at a ranch near Duck Creek, Utah. For those who have never been to the area, you are missing out. Green pine forests with outcroppings of aspen, pink bluffs rising out of nowhere, ice cold streams full of fish, grass bending in the breeze as dragonflies flit around the reeds.


I love my family reunions. We used to do them annually, but as the families have gotten larger and more spread out, we now do them every other year. Makes me sad, but I understand the reasons.

This is one of the earliest family reunions I remember. I don't know exactly my age. I have no concept of time. Really. Ask my wife. I remember events without a framework of dates, years, and other such nonsense. My memories are vivid. I can pull up smells and sensations from when I was two or so, but dates and my brain are like oil and water. They just don't mix. I can sometimes place an event in a rough timeframe due to location. We moved around a lot, so I know Hurricane events were between ages 0-6, while Lousiana events were 6ish-10ish/14ish. I am going to guess I was between 3 and 5.

I have always been an odd kid. I know, big surprise, right? I have learned to interact with people publicly without them seeing the crazy bubbling and seething just below the surface. This was not always the case as a child. I made up stories in my head and talked to myself. I would wander off, captivated by a bit of fluff floating on the breeze. I would sit for hours making up worlds where I was the size of an ant and had to cross huge deserts of tile or forests of shag carpet. Poor weird little Charlie, but I had fun.

Anyway...way off track now. Back to the ranch and my family reunion. I spent a big part of the day climbing rocks and playing with sticks or watching the water strider bugs glide so easily across one of the pond's clear surface.

Seriously, have you seen these things? They stand on water and flit around in all directions in seconds, like humming birds, leaving little ripples in their wake. I could watch them forever, my mind rolling around the grace of their impossible movements. I imagine that there are similar creatures gliding along the thin membranes between realities, unseen, but for their ripples of energy that seeps into our cosmos. Yeah. I'm a nerd and a scifi writer. Deal with it!


I came back to the main hang out area in front of the largest cabin after such adventures and found no one there. I wondered where everyone would go in the middle of a perfect day.

Apparently a skunk had wandered into the middle of the ranch. My family skattered, cousins screaming, adults herding them to safety, a great panicked mess. They gathered in the kitchen and dining room indoors to weather the storm and wait out the little creature.


I wandered into the cabin after the initial panic. Someone had noticed that I wasn't amidst the refugees, so, as soon as I entered, someone asked where I had been and if I had seen the skunk. No doubt they hoped I would tell them that the skunk was gone.

Me: I was outside, petting the kitty.

Them: What kitty?

Me: The black and white kitty that lives under the cabin.

Them: *shocked silence*

Me: It was nice. Why is everyone inside?

Them: Do you mean you pet the skunk? *everyone backing away from me like I'm diseased*

Me: No. It was a kitty (I don't think I knew what a skunk was).

Them: Charlie pet the skunk! Did you get sprayed? *further backing away*

Me: No! It was a kitty! A nice little kitty!

Them: Sure it was...

 *some brave soul stepped forward to sniff me and make sure I didn't get sprayed*

Brave Soul: Sniff. He's good.

Them: *everyone sighs in relief and then begins to torment me for petting a skunk for the rest of my life*

I'm very good with animals...and babies. For some reason they love me. I have heard "she never likes strangers, he never warms up to people that fast, she never holds still for anyone, he usually only does that trick for me, I've never seen her smile like that with anyone she didn't know" and similar stuff a million times. I don't know exactly what it is, but babies and animals just seem to connect with me. I once talked a kitten off a telephone pole by meowing to it. I've calmed crazy dogs down and gotten them to sleep on my lap when their owners said they wouldn't even let me pick them up. I do this one handed clapping thing that is like hypnotism for babies. They can't get enough of it.

The point is I've denied that I pet the skunk for years. I used to get so angry as everyone teased me about it. I would yell and scream that it didn't happen.

I deny it no longer. I am proud of my connection to animals and small humans. I did it! I pet that skunk!


I'll scream it to the world via my little blog. That's right. I'm a freaking rock star in the animal kingdom!

When Tom Riddle turned to Dumbledore and said, "I can speak to snakes, too. They find me... whisper things..." Yeah. I'm like that, but with skunks...and without all the evil intentions to take over the world and murder some gangly scar-faced boy.


 I pet a wild skunk and didn't get sprayed! Can you say you've done that? I doubt it. Jealous much? I think so.

34 comments:

Michelle said...

I love the reunion pictures, they look super good. :)

Angela Ackerman said...

I remember when my youngest was about 3, we took him down to the park behind our house so my oldest could find a tree for his newly-built birdhouse. There we were, looking up at the trees for a nice solid branch...and I noticed Youngest had wandered off.

...and was petting something.

I started over and the smell...dear god. I knew it was a skunk. A very smelly, dead skunk.

LOL. Small world, huh?

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Brent Wescott said...

I've never pet a skunk...ran over a few...
And I've always loved the water skeeters. Thanks for the video.
It Just Got Interesting

Michael Offutt said...

Great art you skunk petter you.

Joe and Marci said...

Yay! I've been waiting for the skunk story! We pulled up right after it happened and heard all about it :).
Your A-frame is awesome, by the way.

Mark said...

YAY A frame memories....

I can't wait for the rest....I am curious about how you will debict Moms love song

Sycamore Girl said...

My mom had a pet skunk when she was a kid. Except they had to have its stink sac removed and it wore a muzzle. Not much of a pet, huh?

Henry loves your one handed clap, although he may cry if you ever show him your velocor raptor...

Analog Girl said...

This is my favorite post of yours that I've read so far. Who knew you are a skunk whisperer? What a handy camping skill! I have been literally surrounded by a family of skunks before. They can get quite aggressive if they think you have something good to eat.

Your story reminded me of when I was little and I used to talk to cows...

Chanel said...

Nope, I'm not jealous. Amused, obviously. And I think it's pretty awesome. But I don't wish a skunk will wonder up to me tomorrow and beg for a scratch behind the ears. I don't like to tempt fate.

Jennifer said...

This is awesome. I eagerly await parts 2 and 3! :o)

Alex's outlook said...

hahahaha "BFF'S" that is too funny. I'm glad you are no longer ashamed and willing to tell this story :D

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Wow! Lots of comments in a short time.

Michelle - Thanks. I missed tons of stuff, but they capture the ranch in essence.

Angela - That is funny and sad. Poor little skunk. I'm glad mine was living. Did you know skunks chirp when happy?

Brent - I always called them skeeters too, but when I went hunting for video they were all under striders. Weird huh?

Michael - Thanks! And thank you so much for the funny pic on your blog and the links back to me. I will have to return the favor once I figure this internet thing out some more.

Marci - So good to finally come to terms. Thank you.

Mark - Sshhhhh. Spoilers!

Holly - Poor skunk. It should be free. I'm sure he will love the velociraptor...just cause you ran screaming and raced around a car to get away from me...

Analog - Thanks! You are also giving away spoilers of my next post. Ü I talked to pigs! That will be another post someday. Small world.

Chanel - You have now tempted fate. It will happen soon.

Jennifer - Thanks. I hope not to disappoint.

Alex - Thanks. Shame is so overrated.

Kristi said...

We have our family reunions at Duck Creek too! I love it up there! I love the skunk story! I don't think I would deny petting a skunk, even if everyone was teasing me. They never did it, in fact they hid from it! CHICKENS!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Kristi - If I had any money I would have property up there. So true. Bunch of chickens!

Emily012473 said...

I have a really sad skunk story--not a sweet, innocent one like yours. Anyway, the water-slider video was so relaxing, and I learned a lot about the properties of water. Thanks for the education!

The Vegetable Assassin said...

One: You were an odd kid? Surely not. Really? Ahem...

Two: Is "petting the kitty" a euphemism? Or am I just dirty? Also, skunks smell like tires. Seriously. Really stinky tires.

Three: Skunks remind me of Judd Nelson.

Four: I like your paintings! They're very colourful and I especially love the celestial one. I want to do some spacey type paintings myself. I'll get around to it. I likes it lots! :)

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Emily - I'm sorry and you are welcome. That is an odd sentence.

Vegetable Assassin - You are super dirty, but you knew that already. Ü Not sure if the illuminated comes through in the pictures. The first few have electrical wiring, switches, and lights. They are a pain to make all the cuts and then you have to paint the wood and the plastic so light comes through. Well worth the effect though.

Danyelle said...

Love this! You have an awesome super power--especially if it enables you to pet a black and white "kitty" without being sprayed. And great visuals. :D

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Thanks Danyelle. I have many super powers between being Skunk Petter and Hat Eye. Ü

Chanel said...

If I've tempted fate by saying that I don't want to temp fate, then I'm going to nullify my temptation of fate by carrying around a skunk repellent every day for the rest of my life.

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Skunk repellent will not save you. Ü

L'Aussie said...

Hi Charlie! This was fascinating as we don't have skunks in Oz, at least not this type of animal ha ha. I wish you all the best on your new life! Keep cranking that novel! I can see you're very talented.

Denise:)

Matthew Rush said...

These pictures are freaking awesome. Love them!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Thank you L'Aussie and Matthew. You both rock so I am extra grateful for the praise.

Bethany Wiggins said...

Love your post! I adore all things Utah, even the water skeeters (That's what I've always called them). But close encounters with skunks are never fun! I've had a few and was left with burning sinuses, throat, and eyes. And I stunk for days, even though I wasn't the one who got squirted!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Thanks Bethany! I have had half a dozen encounters with skunks and still never even close to being sprayed. They really do love me. Glad to have you reading.

Chanel said...

I think the point of skunk repellent is to repel skunks. I think I'll be safe.

Love the new design! Especially you holding the skunk by the scruff of the neck.

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Yes, Chanel, but now that you have tempted fate the repellent will dry out at the worst time and you will find a skunk rubbing itself endearingly against your legs.

Thank you! I'll like the new design for a while before I get bored...hopefully.

Michael Offutt said...

This new design is kickin'. Your web-fu is mighty.

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Thanks Michael! Now I just have to figure out all the other cool things that you manage to do effortlessly on your blog.

Mark said...

BOO ... look at me I have been to new york and have an unhealthy attraction to skunks....

I like the darker colors :P

HowLynnTime said...

I love your skitter bug picture!

I actually have petted a skunk - had a friend who managed to find an orphan one about every spring - knowing him he still does. I was the only one who thought his babies were pretty so I had the honor of being allowed to hold them for a second or two. They are very sweet.
However, the worst thing ever was a whole family of them died under my 70 year-old aunts house one year - the reek clung to you like nothing I ever saw - who could see of course with your eyes blurred in stench. Anyway she brought a picnic lunch to us once and when I used the metal spoon - it smelled of skunk. A year later.
Every since that time coffee and skunk have a similar tone to me - I drink coffee obsessively, but sometimes I wonder out loud, 'who is brewing coffee' about three minute before a companion will give the skunk alarm - lol

Apoliticism said...

Does your one handed clappy thingy work with midgets too?

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Mark - You are soooo jealous of me it hurts a little. We'll drag you to NYC once I sell my book and make my millions.

HowLynnTime- Thanks. I think they are much sweeter than people realize. I think coffee smells like BO...sometimes I sniff my armpit before I realize someone is making coffee...

Jared- For some reason I don't think so.

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