A smell in the morning, a dancer in darkness

The last few mornings I’ve been waking up, groggy with mixed feelings of pleasant comfort and a scrunched up nose, slowly realizing that I am smelling a skunk.


Skunks, also known as polecats, are amazingly cute. Whichever one (or more than one?! Could we have a den of wee skunks, reminiscent of the bashful Flower?) is haunting my door has as of yet gone unseen, and since it is nocturnal and I am positively not so, there’s a pretty decent chance that we won’t be making eye contact anytime soon. It did fill my dreams, though. In my sleep it came to me as the perfect cartoony live action skunk – it really had long claws for digging up grubs and the like, but it also smiled. And spoke, perhaps? More than anything I remember it’s grin which, though kitschy, was disarmingly sincere.

I used to work at an educational farm in central Massachusetts. One night I woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I went for a walk to see what I could see. As I approached the visitors’ center I was mystified by a white smoke that was drifting in a beautiful, spooky way around the perennials and welcome signs. My middle-of-the-night self stared, devoid of reason, wondering if it was a holy spirit or a high and dry will-o’-the-wisp. It turned out, however, to be a skunk, frolicking around, seemingly just enjoying the quarter moon and the deep summer darkness.

Another encounter with a skunk at this same farm was on a walk home from the sugar bush with my dear friend Jessica. We were heading for a hayfield in the early gloaming when we saw something dancing amid the golden stubs of mowed grass. We wondered what this creature could be, moving like a fierce butterfly, like someone singing on a dancefloor. The skunk, in its black union suit and long stripes, was leaping and spinning like a contra dancer, and as I watched I felt a rooted sweetness. It was like hearing someone sing in the shower.

For a song that You can sing in the shower, featuring axes, adorable lumberjack styles, and fem-in-ine polecats, click here. Satisfaction guaranteed.

3 responses

  1. Hi Jenny,
    I remember Flower from the movie Bambi. What you witnessed was magical. I imagine , perhaps, we can learn a lesson from the skunk, as it does its contra dance.

  2. Pingback: News and Gratitude | spokes and petals

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