I know this "stinks" but there's no new Blog today, so I'm afraid you'll either have to read this one again or scroll down and check the archives for a Blog you missed!
We've had a few skunks visiting the neighbourhood these past weeks...
The evening seemed to be cooling down a little as Adam sat on a comfy wicker chair on his verandah, facing a row of Germundy trees and the open fields to the south. The home he shares with his husband Jim is an 1882 Farmhouse painted white, with deep red- almost burgundy, trim. It sits only a kilometre from the Pacific Ocean, in a secluded bend in the road. Jim and Adam decided to move to Salt Spring Island two years ago when the prospect of another winter in Ontario had sent shivers up both their spines in mid-August.
The day had been tremendously hot. The humidity was relentless and hung without remorse in the thick, moisture-laden air. As the sun was close to setting in the western sky, Adam watched some birds flit about in the trees and wondered if they felt the heat too. He took a sip of his lemonade and held the cold glass up to his forehead.
Still- he thought, this is much better than those years they lived in Central Ontario, where summer heat and humidity turned into winter snow and freezing cold. He shivered in the heat at the thought of winter. Tires that gripped winter roads, icy walkways, snow-clogged streets and highways. No sir. This was better. Infinitely better. No question.
Suddenly, as he took another sip of lemonade he heard a voice say-
“Well, hello there!”
He looked along the verandah to his left.
There was nothing.
He looked to the doorway that led into the family room to his right.
Not a soul.
Didn’t sound like Jim’s usual Baritone, he thought.
“Jim! Did you call me?”- he glanced towards the open door at the end of the verandah, calling out in a rather raised voice.
“Nope. I’m trying to get these bills for the barn remodelling figured out. I don’t need to talk to a soul right now.”
“Sorry Dear!”- Adam replied. “It won’t happen again. Carry on!”
He sits his glass of cold lemonade down on the table and lays his head against the back of the chair and listens to the birds.
He may have dozed for a bit.
What seemed like a few seconds later. The voice once more…
“Hello. Can I speak with you?”
“What? Who is it? Where are you?”- Adam asked hesitantly. It was definitely a smallish voice but clear and well-spoken.
“Down here.”-said the little voice.
“Down here”- the voice answered Adam once more.
Adam looked to the verandah floor, where about a foot from his chair, there stood a small skunk!
“Oh my God! You’re a…a…a”. He stuttered.
“Skunk?”- said the skunk. “Yes. I get that a lot! Believe me.
Adam had pulled his tanned, beach-thonged, pedicured toes off the floor- “Oh please, please don’t spray me- or my furniture.”- Adam pleaded, “especially, not my furniture. It’s new this year and I love it so!”
“Oh Good Gosh” snickered the skunk waving one of his front paws in an ‘aw shucks don’t worry about me motion’. “Not that I wouldn’t like to spray you, you understand- it’s in my nature- but I won’t. Don’t worry. Now relax. I know this is a little unusual. Now in turn you won’t spray me will you?”
Adam was confused-“Ah….spray?….you?. You are afraid I might spray…ummm. You?”
“Oh Sweet thing, you are just too easy!” The little guy smacked a hairy rear leg and chuckled aloud. “Settle down Adam. I know you can’t spray me.”
“You know my name?” Adam asked.
“Yes. Why of course I do”- says the skunk. “But do you know mine?”
“No.” Adam was quick to apologize. “I don’t, I’m afraid. You have the upper hand.”
“Well, it’s Kenny.”
“Kenny?” he replied nervously. “Is that so? Just Kenny, eh?”
“Just Kenny” –said the Skunk.
Adam was keeping his eyes firmly planted on the little fellow. The skunk was jet black in colour with the absolute whitest stripe down his back that Adam had ever seen on a skunk. Not that he had seen that many.
“You are very handsome, Kenny.”- Adam offered the compliment to the skunk. “You have a very thick coat for this time of the year, being so hot and all.”
“Well thank you!” said the skunk, his voice rising an octave as he spoke.” I don’t often get those types of comments from a human. That’s nice. Usually I catch people off-guard and they run in the opposite direction- Hands flailing all over the place, screaming “Help!” at the top of their lungs. Funny bunch you human creatures!”
“Yes. Well, I suppose we are to skunks.”
“Oh heavens, you folks are strange to most of us out there!” Kenny pointed with a right paw to the open fields beyond. “Say, do you mind if I have a seat? My back legs are absolutely killing me. Bit of arthritis. You wouldn’t have some low-dose aspirin about? Nevermind, I can wait until I get home.”
Adam mumbled- “Low-dose aspirin. You take low-dose aspirin?”
“Oh yes!” Kenny answered quickly. “Every now and then. You see, I don’t like to shove a whole bunch of chemicals into my body.” Kenny crossed his front paws in a relaxed gesture. “So, do you mind?”
“Mind?”- Adam said. Then he understood. “Oh sit. You want to sit. Yes. Yes, be my guest. Please. Don’t you need a lift up?”
“No thank you. I am used to this. Why I can jump up on top of a 6 foot high trash can and flip open the lid in seconds. Getting on this wicker chair is skunk’s play!”
Adam was surprised. He laughed. “Did you know we have that same expression only we say- child’s play!”
Kenny climbed up, situated himself and crossed his legs before answering, “Yes Adam, I am aware that you also have a saying similar in intent to our Skunk-libs. I believe you humans heard our voices out in the field years ago and without knowing where it came, from stole it and made the “saying” your own. No big deal!”
“It isn’t?” Adam was quiet for a minute. “Well that’s good I expect.”
“Yes. I suppose so,.” says Kenny, curiously watching Adam. “Now to the point of my appearing here on your verandah Adam- unannounced as it is….”
“Oh Dear, excuse my manners, may I offer you a drink?”
“Kenny was amused. “A drink? Why, yes of course. That would be lovely. Whatever you’re having Adam Dear.”
Adam picked up the pitcher, smiled and said- “Lemonade OK?”
“Peachy!” says Kenny. He continues. “Now Adam, I know this is highly unusual but Krista and I...”
“Krista?”- says Adam as he leans forward in his chair?
“Oh, I’m very sorry. I am getting ahead of myself. Krista is my wife.
“Of course”- Adam says as he settles back, “Why not? Krista is your wife.”
“Oh now, look handsome- you ae quite handsme you know, for a human."
Adam blushed a bit.
" I hope this is not too much for you to take in. Krista did warn me of the dangers of talking to humans.” He looks up, straight into Adam’s face. “Are you sure you are all right. Shall I continue?”
Adam passes him a glass of lemonade. The ice tinkles loudly in the glass as Adam’s hand shakes- just ever so slightly.
“Yes. Yes. Me? Oh, I’m fine. Continue please!”
“Thank you.” Kenny is still not too sure about how Adam is handling this talking to humans thing but nonetheless he continues-
“You see, Krista and I would like to know if you boys are finished with the renovations to the barn because we would like to move back home- if that’s convenient for both of you, of course.”
“Convenient. Well- uh- yes. I. Uh.” Adam gets to the point.
“You live in our barn?”
“Oh yes. Oh Dear, I hope that’s not going to be a problem now that I’ve let the possum out of the bag?”- wondered Kenny.
“Possum out of the…” Adam couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Yes Possum.”-says Kenny. “Oh, darn, another of those little sayings that you humans think is attributed to your language. Now, just what is it you say? Not possums but...”
He thinks, tapping a small “finger” against his forehead.
“English can be so confusing at times. Oh I know. Cat! You say Cat! Don’t let the “cat” out of the bag. What a strange tribe you can be.” He chuckles and as he does he squints his eyes.
“Yes, that’s it. Cat of out the bag!” Adam continues. “By the way your English is quite good. I don’t speak skunk.”
Kenny smiled politely.
“Now, Kenny to your question. Where abouts do you live in the barn?”
“Oh, Dear Adam. Not actually in, you see we live under the floor in the southwest corner. It’s so warm and cozy. As a matter of fact we were building a new fireplace just as you started doing your work.”
“You were building a fireplace?” Adam could scarcely believe the conversation he was having- with a skunk no less- albeit a very charming and mannerly one.”
“Oh yes. Just a little one mind you. Krista had the entire living room re-done over last winter and she so wanted a fireplace to be the focal point.”
“Yes, well I can understand that.”- Adam adds. “ …and you want to move back? Were did you go? And why doesn’t it smell in the barn. I don’t mean to be cruel but…”
“Dear Adam. No. No. No. That is quite all right. The barn doesn’t “smell” as you put it so elegantly, because Krista and I don’t believe in keeping an untidy burrow. We keep quite clean and as you know- cleanliness is next to the log.”
“Cleanliness is…” Adam definitely could not grasp this one.
Kenny began to explain- “Cleanliness. Next to the log. The pond is next to the log. For bathing? Cleanliness is next to the log.”
“Oh my. Yes. And why not Kenny?” adds Adam.
“’Yes, why not.” Kenny sips more lemonade and answers Adam’s other question.
“When you started fixing the barn, the noise and dust got to be a little much- Krista is “with skunk” you know.”
“Of course she is!”- Adam reaches over and without thinking, pats Kenny’s little black paw.
“And when is she due?”
“Oh, any day now. You see that’s why Krista wanted to be at home- before the “kits” arrive and that is why we thought we would just come right out and ask you. We had lived down by the old oak stump by the big rock during the renovations to your barn. Do you know the place?”
“Yes. Yes. I do.”
Adam kept nodding and clasped his hands together several times. Well, Kenny, I’m glad you came up to the house to ask and I believe I can speak for Jim too, when I say that you may move back in as soon as you like. We are all finished with your barn! I mean our barn”.
He chuckles and turned a bit red in the cheeks.
“Hurrah!” –says Kenny with glee, almost spilling his lemonade.’ That is fabulous news Adam! Krista will be terribly, terribly pleased. I must go tell her skunk-suite!”
“Uh- “skunk- suite’? -says Adam but before Kenny could answer he blurts out- “Tout suite! Right away!”
Kenny set his lemonade glass down on the tray. Reaching over, he shook Adam’s hand, then, scrambled down off the chair. Just before he shuffled down the steps he turned and said-
“Adam, it’s been a delight talking to you. Please come down and see the “kits” when they arrive.”
“I’ll do that Kenny. Both Jim and I will. Thanks.” He waves as Kenny heads down the steps and runs across the lawn and into the field towards the big rock and the old oak.
“My, my, just Imagine. I am a regular Doctor Doolittle. Talking to the animals. The evening was still hot and Adam leaned back in his wicker chair once again and dozed.
“Adam. Adam!” It was Jim’s voice. “Wake up. I’m finished and we came in a thousand bucks under our budget!”
“Budget. What??” Adam’s mouth was dry.
“The budget for the barn reno. We saved a thousand!”
“Oh, yes, great. Say, did you hear voices out here just a few minutes ago?” Adam was about to explain when Jim says-
“The only thing I heard was a bunch of snoring. Now, come on in. Let’s get dinner started. I’m a hungry man!”
Adam stood, yawned and finished the bit of lemonade left in his glass. As he picked up the tray he noticed a second glass- with just an ice cube left in the bottom, sitting next to the lemonade pitcher. He began to shake- just a little.
“Jim!” he called looking towards the open door, “Did you come out here on the verandah and have some lemonade as I was dozing?”
“Lemonade? No! I had some iced tea instead as I worked on the reno stuff. Why?”
“Nevermind!” says Adam as he looks down at the tray once more.
There, sitting right next to the lemonade pitcher was a second glass, with just a single ice cube inside.