15 February 2001

Mephitis mephitis

This is probably as good a time as any to write more about skunks.

We don’t have skunks in England, so I was really excited when I first saw one late one evening. I watched it turn a corner and snuffle off. I knew what it was from watching TV.

“Wow,” I said, “It’s a skunk!”

Genuine North American wildlife! I started to follow it, closing in to get a better look. Sara grabbed me firmly.

“No, mathew, don’t chase the skunk.”

In retrospect, it was a good thing she was there to stop me. I knew skunks could spray, but at the time I didn’t realize they had a range of over four meters.

Having survived my first encounter with mephitis mephitis, I started to develop a certain affection for the little critters. They’re awfully fluffy and cute, even if they do occasionally waft their musky scent through our neighborhood. We even named our local skunk—he’s known as Monsieur Mouffard. (For some reason skunks have to be French. It’s just one of those things.)

A few days later, I had a dream about a skunk. I dreamt was outside our house, when suddenly M. Mouffard came running towards me and leapt into my arms. I held him for a few moments, before giving in to the urge to pet his soft fur. He began to talk to me. He said that he was cold and hungry, and could he sleep under our porch? I agreed, and said I’d feed him, so long as he promised not to spray near the house. He promised.

In real life I haven’t fed M. Mouffard, so perhaps that’s why he hasn’t kept his side of the bargain. I woke up last night at around 2am, and discovered that he had left his calling card. Judging from the nasal assault, someone had annoyed him right outside our bedroom window. I began to get a sense for what it would be like to experience a direct hit, as my stomach churned and I fought off a growing sense of nausea.

Still, he’s darn cute.

© mathew 2017