Mar. 27—It's springtime and the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano; the turkey buzzards migrate to Ontario, Canada; and the skunks show up in Grangeville, Idaho.
It was a dark and stormy night when Lilly the Fat Weiner Dog woke up agitated and wanted outside. I stumbled to the door to let her out and a wave of recognition washed over me. That recognition was tangible.
Yes, I have a history with skunks.
Years ago when my family and I were tent camping by a lake, our dog woke us up one night with several sharp barks and then a gagging noise. Within seconds a curtain of fumes descended on our tent and we could barely breathe. The kids started crying. The dog rushed into the tent and, despite my efforts to keep her out, she crawled down into my sleeping bag.
It was a horrible few minutes of trying to catch my breath. And then, all of a sudden, I couldn't smell it anymore. Well, I thought, that wasn't so bad. I guess skunk fumes dissipate faster than I thought.
A couple of days later on the way home we stopped at a convenience store and went inside for a snack. Everybody in the store stared at us with horrified looks and then backed away. When we went up to the checkout counter, the clerk covered her nose with a handkerchief, quickly rang up our purchases and then motioned for us to leave as quickly as possible.
The skunk aroma didn't dissipate after all. It just overwhelmed our olfactory senses.
In one respect, I've always kind of admired skunks. Their size is small but they make a big impression. Hit one on the highway and for the next three days, all drivers will smell the evidence of your crime.
When skunks come out of hibernation in the spring and become a nuisance around town, some people call the game department to come and trap the critters and remove them elsewhere, like Heaven. I'm leery of that solution because, often as not, the traps catch the neighborhood pet cats who are none too happy about it.
So Lilly scared up the first skunk of the season in my neighborhood. I've been looking forward to it for months. The skunks are back — can daffodils be far behind?
Hedberg may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 743-7411.