Having grown up in a rural area, I’ve never been suckered by the term “fresh country air.” Drive with your windows rolled down through my old stomping grounds, and the “fresh country air” emanating from chicken houses and dairy farms will leave you gasping for some good old-fashioned poisonous city smog.
Of course, if you know how to avoid those spots, there are always those other country smells, the good ones — wisteria in bloom (one of my favorites), the dirt of a freshly turned-over peanut field and smoke from the pit of some roadside barbecue joint just to name a few.
But in the past couple of months, I’ve become acquainted with another blast of “fresh country air” — the skunk.
Oh, we’ve all gotten that horrible whiff of eau de skunk while cruising some two-lane road, only to have it dissipate in a mile or so. But have you ever thought about how those folks who live near that spot must feel to deal with that smell?
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Allow me to answer for you. We don’t like it.
I’ve begun to discover that the two-lane road in front of my house is a skunk mecca. I’m pretty sure there’s some skunk pilgrimage to the land around my house and a ritual in which the most faithful of skunks sacrifice themselves to the stink gods by leaping in front of cars and trucks.
Now, I knew when I moved out of the city and back to the country that encounters with wildlife would grow more frequent. I’ve dealt with rattlesnakes, armadillos, wild hogs and usually at least a dozen deer on my daily commutes.
None of that was unexpected, though the raccoon who snuck into my SUV last week was rather unexpected especially when he jumped into the front seat at 2 a.m. to let me know my driving was a little unnerving to him. I think I let out a blast of skunk spray myself at that point.
But I never accounted for skunks, at least not their near-constant presence over the past two months. I think Iraq’s Chemical Ali raised these critters and set them out because the power of their anal scent glands (three words that need not ever go together) is unnatural. It can be smelled a mile away, and can infiltrate vehicles and homes, including mine.
The first day it hit a couple months ago, my wife shot me an accusing glare. Good grief! If I had that kind of power, I’d have gotten me a good-paying job with the fair. “Come see and smell the Amazing Skunk Boy!”
However, I’m now lobbying the U.S. military to take these skunks far away from my house, deploy them to Afghanistan and use the the little Pepé Le Pews to flush out Osama bin Laden.
If that doesn’t work, we can always put a raccoon in his car.
Chris Johnson, whose column runs on Sundays, can be reached at 706-320-4403.