One member of my household left home the day after graduation and was immediately replaced by three.
No sooner did my son leave home for the summer and for college than three new tenants took up residence in my home on Benedict Hill.
The first whiff of my new neighbors came one evening when I saw a four-legged critter jauntily waddling uphill in the woods near my house. "Look kids, a skunk!" I shouted, beckoning them to the window for a glimpse.
The skunk continued its uphill journey, indifferent and unfazed by all the attention. Within moments the kids retreated for their Nintendo DS and video games and Pepe Le Pew disappeared into the trees.
I gave no further thought to my Close Encounter of the Skunk Kind until the next evening, while grilling, when I noticed some movement in my peripheral vision. To my astonishment there was a procession of three skunks — a mother and two little ones — from under some bushes and over to a shallow crawl space under my deck. I watched in wonder and amazement, thinking how cute they were.
Then it dawned on me: these little critters weren't just passing through. They were coming 'home'.
At first the notion of cohabitating with a small skunk family didn't really faze me. I generally have a live-and-let-live attitude. I figured my cat has enough sense to give our visitors a wide berth, and my dog is afraid of her own shadow, so I doubted that she'd roll out the Welcome Wagon.
I was content to forget I ever saw the critters...that is, until my guests decided to announce their presence with a major stink bomb.
That night I was awakened from a deep slumber by the unmistakable odor of...you guessed it. This wasn't just a whiff of skunk like you get on the highway. This smelled like the entire troupe had taken aim at my bedroom window.
I was semi-aware of the smell but was too sleepy to investigate. Tossing and turning in a skunky haze, I dreamed of a skunk invasion. After hours of sleeping fitfully, I improvised by putting a pillow over my face so I could breathe.
The next morning I woke up with a skunk hangover, the faint smell of my unwelcome houseguests permeating the place.
It was time to roll out the "un-welcome" mat.
What to do about my stinky striped visitors?
I sought answers from the source of all knowledge: Facebook. I posted a status update on Facebook detailing my dilemma and seeking pearls of wisdom from my hundreds of 'friends'.
No doubt amused, my cyber associates rallied to my defense. Responses ranged from moving out to getting an industrial-sized sprayer and dousing the house with tomato juice. One mischievous soul suggested lacing some bait with Benadryl and moving the skunks under a neighbor's porch as the varmints slept (the skunks, that is, not the neighbors).
As creative as that solution might be, the winning idea came from a veteran of skunk cohabitation (who knew we had this common bond?) who suggested I fight fire with fire. He recommended placing a bowl of ammonia near my furry foes to drive them away...sort of a battle of the bad smells.
Armed with bowl, ammonia, and rubber gloves, I was ready for action. I carefully placed the bowl near their happy home, making a quick escape — air freshener in hand — in the event of a counterattack.
As of this writing it appears my noxious neighbors have moved on. But I'm keeping the tomato juice just in case.
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