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Daredevil skunk lacked gratitude

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By Vince Luecke

Deft driving skills and a bit of luck saved the life of a  skunk Thursday morning. Unfortunately, the critter, either a daredevil or in need of glasses, didn't return the favor.

I was en route to work and was just out of New Boston when the skunk, jet black with just a narrow white band on its flank, began its waddling journey across Indiana 545. With no vehicles behind me, I hit the brakes. The skunk slowed, then stopped. I couldn't stop completely in time and the skunk, which finally saw me, froze in likely panic. Over the skunk I went. I grimaced behind the wheel, expecting to feel a thud. Nothing. I glanced up. The skunk, surprised, perhaps, at being alive, flipped its tail a time or two and resumed its journey.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I don't like crushing wild animals. But more importantly, I didn't want the skunk smelling up my car since I've been told that skunks, in their last dying gasp, release their aromatic arsenal.

I thought it was clean sailing, until the stoplight in Troy. I sniffed. Skunk smell. I rolled down my window and a wave of rank skunk aroma hit me. The skunk, scared by the close call, had got me after all, apparently sprinkling my undercarriage. I groaned and rolled up my window, turning up the air conditioning.

I had a meeting that morning at Branchville Correctional Facility but took the time to make what was for me a rare stop at a car wash. The $5 investment in suds and water may have helped a little, but not much.  My car smelled of skunk all day.

It wasn't horrible, but definitely noticeable. It was as if I'd hung one of those small deodorizers from my rear-view mirror. Instead of scenting my car with pine-tree aroma, vanilla or cinnamin, it delivered skunk odor. As of Friday morning, the smell was still there, though not as strong.

The skunk was the second battle with nature I've lost this summer. For the past couple of weeks, I've been fighting a spider who's determined to build a web across a walk-through door opening in my garage. When I arrive home at night, I close the garage door and exit the building through the side door, running through the sticky web. I can't see it but it's there.

On some especially productive days, the spider has woven a web large enough to stretch across my face and chest, covering my glasses. I can't see the spider at night and it's never there in the morning when I leave home.

The spider must have either moved on or wised up because the web-making had stopped as of midweek.

Thursday evening was one of those times when I wished I had a large camera with a super-fast shutter as a red-tailed hawk swooped down and caught a small rabbit in the grassy area north of my house.

I was outside, talking on my cell phone and glanced up to see the bird swoop over the house and dive into the knee-high grass. I figured it had killed something and began walking in that direction. I got within 20 feet when the hawk took back to the sky, a small rabbit in its talons.

I wished the bird had a taste for skunk.