Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What's Up With All These Skunks?

The few from the Ozarks

When I leave work to go home, I pull out of the parking lot and turn right on “I” Street. A mile and a half down the road I reach Arkansas Highway 102, and have a decision to make: do I turn right or left? Either way gives me about an equal length to get home. One is more urban; the other is more rural. In traffic, either one can take about the same amount of time. Normally I turn right.

But suddenly, both routes are lined with skunk roadkill, and I mean real skunks. I turned right last Friday, and encountered five dead skunks along the road. I turned left last night and encountered six dead skunks. Why the sudden influx of useless, smelly carcasses on what could be a pleasant journey to my final destination? These ugly cadavers emit no sound. They look awful (a few have mostly intact bodies, but most have their bloody guts spread out), and the only thing coming out from them is an awful stench.

Where are the usual critters, good and bad, that we used to see lining the road home in past years? Where are the turtles, those plodders who take things slowly but always seem to get there? Where are the cats and dogs, those affectionate animals who just want nothing more than to be in your lap? Where are the raccoons, who seem dumb but who are amazing critters? Where are the deer, those fleet footed, beautiful creatures who raise our spirits by their mere appearance? Where are the possums, who somehow mislead us into thinking they are benign when they are not? And where are the robins, who just happen to land in the right place at the right time?

I’ll head home tonight, trying to keep my eyes on the road, hoping to see a fox worth watching.

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