Oh, the joys of living in the forest. Tonight as the sun went down, spilling orange-pink over the western hill and into the lake, I watched a mommy deer and her speckled fawn cavort on the back lawn. Such a great time they were having. Baby would kick up her heels and race to one end of the lawn, mom giving chase. Then they’d race back the other way. (This was obviously a young, energetic mom.) An hour before these two showed up, I was sitting on the front porch, looking at the trees (and talking to myself as I plotted my next book) and watching two male deer—a daddy with double prongs on each side, and a new young male with his first sprout of antlers.
Apparently, segregation is all the rage in deerdom.
Yes, the deer are fun to watch. The turkeys are a kick. And the occasional bear is cool. However, there are certain species of wildlife I could live without.
Three weeks ago, I arrived here at our Idaho home—after ICRS—two days before my writer pals were set to descend upon me for the elongated weekend of book planning and play. First night here I saw a critter scoot across the walk on the side of the house, kicking off the automatic lighting system on the garage. Cat? Nope. Skunk.
The air conditioning guy came the next day. (You remember him—the guy who arrived a decent sort and left a killer?) He informed me he’d seen the skunk disappear under our deck. Thing had the nerve to have taken up residence underneath my house! Oh, joy. I pictured 11 women—and one skunk. Thinking how loud the house and yard would soon be. Wondering how much it would take to set off said stinky-pie.
Guests arrived Thursday. Hubby arrived Friday. (He’s a brave man.) I informed him of the skunk—quickly adding that this was not the weekend to take care of the problem. I didn’t want a trapped skunk letting loose with guests in the house. Besides, I wasn’t too fond of the idea of his trapping a skunk at all. At our California house, hubby once did just that. Guess whose car he chose to haul the caged thing away?
Okay, his was the sports car and mine the hatchback, but I’ve always thought this was just a little too convenient a reason.
At any rate—we faced a weekend with trying not to tick off Mr. Skunk.
Hubby is a very industrious man. He decided (it was a good reason to leave the house full of women) to drive to town and ask some helpful hardware man what to do about skunks. He heard the most inventive answer.
The 11 of us yakky writers had moved from our outside table under the gazebo part of the deck into the air conditioned dining room for our afternoon session. (This was the week of the killer heat across America.) We looked out the windows—and there was hubby. Hat shoved on his head. Smirking grin on his face. Carrying a bucket of…something. Tossing said something underneath the deck. Brainstorming stopped as we all gawked. “What’s he doing?” someone asked.
“No telling.” And that was the truth. With my husband, you just never know.
A bit of explanation is in order at this point.
1. The deck/porch runs around this entire house and includes a large gazebo area at one back corner. Total square footage of its wooden flooring is over 1800 square feet.
2. We had no idea where, under this entire decking system, the skunk actually lived.
3. Air conditioner guy had said to get rid of Mr. Skunk soon, as they tend to breed rather quickly. Which meant we could have an entire brood spreading out underneath the entire deck, for all we knew.
With all of the above in mind, my industrious husband figured he needed to “treat” underneath the whooooole deck. Yup, dawgonit, not one corner would be left for those skunks. And what was the handy-dandy homegrown (hardware-grown) answer to our dilemma?
Mothballs. Skunks hate the smell.
Dear hubby threw handfuls of mothballs everywhere under our deck. And I do mean everywhere.
Hah! Take that, you skunks! We’ll be rid of you—without a single stink!
It worked, too. We have not seen a black-and-white critter since.
We did start smelling the mothballs within a few hours.
Have you ever smelled a couple hundred mothballs, heated by 100-degree temperatures?
Think your grandmother’s closet times a thousand.
Let me put it this way. Those moths you get at night when you turn on a porch light? Ain't none around here. I think we lost the gnats and bees along with 'em. I'd swear the birds are even keeping their distance.
I've begun to marvel there are still boats out on the bay.
Ah, yes, living in the forest. I used to drive onto our property, get out of the car and inhale the wonderful smell of the woods and pine. Crisp. Clean. Invigorating. Now, two weeks after our skunks skedaddled, I’m still smelling mothballs. Oh, it’s fainter. And it certainly doesn’t drive me off the deck. (Not that this would help—the smell’s in the house, too). But I am beginning to wonder how long mothballs last. I mean, their distinctive aroma has to run out sometime, doesn’t it?
Well, doesn’t it?
This morning out on the road, I jogged past a dead skunk. Doggone if that thing didn't have any odor at all.