Monday, July 11, 2005

Don’t Point That Thing At Me!

It’s skunk season. I saw four of them this morning. Two were “courting” beside the street, one hiding down in a driveway, and another one crossing the road.

I’ve learned to recognize the animals I see out at night by the color of their shiny eyes, and by their movements.

Cats have golden eyes, and they walk fast, stop and look, walk again, stop and look, then run into a bush or under a car and watch.

Raccoons have golden eyes, humped backs and stand defiantly, wondering who’s gonna try and steal his garbage, then they’ll reluctantly lumber away. Racoons often take the whole family along, as many as four or five.

Foxes have golden eyes too, maybe red, maybe white, and run like cats, but don’t stop and look. Foxes are unconcerned with cars, and often sit beside the road and watch traffic.

Coyotes are bigger than foxes, and run like foxes, but turn and look with their golden eyes as they run. Coyotes are shyer than foxes; they usually slip away before you can see them unless you watch the shadows outside the headlights.

You never see the eyes of bunny rabbits, which is weird considering how big they are, but they dart about randomly, sometimes drawn to vehicle tires like moths to the flame, and they occasionally pop straight up in the air when they’re startled. I think they know that it’s their mission in life to be coyote lunch, but they somehow mistake trucks for coyotes, and become road pizza instead.

Skunks are the only animals that always have red eyes (when you can see them). If the skunk is happy, it’ll nonchalantly lumber around in the grass, foraging for bugs and worms. If it’s upset, it’ll be in the middle of the road pointing its ass at you.

I remember the first time I saw a skunk. I looked up from wrangling the next newspaper, and there he was, in the middle of the road, with his pants pulled down around his ankles, fluffy black and white tail in the air, pointing a big rosy red asshole at me, counting off “Ready!… Aim!… My reaction was to hit the brake and throw it in reverse, “Back up! Back up! Give that boy some room!” Just give him some distance, and he’ll calm down and go about his business. Then after he’s gone, I roll up the window “just in case” and slowly drive past.

Om Sri Angarakaya Namaha

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