• Marcia Edwina Herman-Giddens

An Irritated Skunk and Other Pesky Creatures of Country Life


Two nights ago, my husband and I awoke to the unmistakable smell of a skunk

that had been annoyed. This was the first time ever in the house where we have lived for over twenty-five years. We keep windows open whenever the weather allows, this time with an unwelcome result. After the smell crept though the house my sleep was fitful and dreams kept trying to explain the unpleasantness.

The dreams’ details had escaped me by the time I awoke for the day but what stayed with me was a catalog I must have created while trying to sleep of all the pesky creatures and varmints, toxic plants, and even the cute creatures that keep getting in our house. Some practically become pets like the male tree frog in our sunroom which sang to us for months. He refused to leave. You might wonder how I knew the frog was a male. Since everything I do seems to require research so did he. That is how I learned that only the males make so many calls. Females are quieter.

The sunroom also houses several green anoles and blue-tailed skinks from time to time and not at our request. Certainly, the occasional mice are not wanted nor are they appreciated. More research taught me how to recognize lizard droppings. Who doesn’t know mouse droppings? If you wonder about the lizards- their droppings are a bit bigger than those of mice and white on one end. That part is composed of crystals of uric acid from what would be urine if they made that. Of course, there are spiders galore big and small, eggs sacs dangling from their webs along with the occasional dried-up cricket (and many spider droppings). Droppings of other sorts, too. It makes for messes to clean up and a disheveled existence.

Added to these visitors are the occasional bees and wasps, praying mantises, worms, snails, centipedes, toads, and more that get inside. Many creatures that visit us outside, sometimes eating part of the garden, or in a recent event committing a killing such as that of the beautiful rooster that had taken up with us and followed me around like a dog (we think the culprit was a fox). These animals include raccoons, foxes, rabbits, possums, squirrels, groundhogs, hawks, skunks (we now know), turtles, snakes, voles, and moles including a new giant variety that really disturbs the ground and the plants above. When the turtles are on their back tiptoes standing and reaching for a low-hanging tomato, they are really cute. I don’t begrudge them but do the others. We hear coyotes but so far, we have never seen one around the house. I am sure I have forgotten some of our visiting critters.

A friend on a first visit here from Puerto Rico, upon hearing our warnings about poison ivy, copperheads, yellow jackets, chiggers, and extreme populations of disease-carrying ticks, said, “How do you stand to live in such a place?” Familiarity must account for a lot of the acceptance of these conditions.

As with the cacophony of the garden, my life is a bit ruffled and disturbed right now, including the concern over friends and loved ones with covid or just recovering. Things do seem to be straightening up on almost every front, including good news about requests coming in for readings from Unloose My Heart in Birmingham!

Meanwhile, I look at our garden, also disarrayed and rampant with wild growth and orange cosmos flowers on six-foot tall stalks, all of which delight the butterflies. There are dozens flickering amidst the flowers and okra and shriveling end-of-summer tomatoes. A happy scene it is.



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