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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Scents You Left Me, Baby…”

I love to read my friends’ posts about the amazing rare chickens and goats on their homesteads. I can post about interesting animals at Serenity, too, as you’ve seen before…and interesting ‘homesteads.”

It was supposed to be a vacation week for Glenn and me, but needs on both sides of this generation sandwich were pressing. Doctor appointments, and school field days and the nursing home and a family funeral…lots of non-emergent, but still urgent things just kept us from any semblance of leisure. Blessings everywhere. Leisure: not happening. 

Then today, we were finally forced to pay attention to that wretched smell in the dining room and library; actually now the smell was spreading into the kitchen and…well, everywhere in the house. No longer could it be ignored. At first, we thought we had failed to empty the diaper pail. But it smelled more like a skunk. We considered that perhaps a skunk had crawled under our house and sprayed in the crawl space.  We wondered if one of our frequent attic squirrels had died somewhere. Finally, Glenn declared  “I’m going to call Phillips…” (that’s our HVAC repair company)….”Something has died inside our duct work. We cannot go on breathing this stench.”  and so, he did. 

The HVAC guys came out. They saw where the point of entry for the culprit was in that duct work . They gathered the tools and two men to evict whatever carcass was in there. They shined the light in the darkness of that air passage. And then they went out to my husband , who was on the mower. “That’s no dead animal in that air duct” the man said. 

“Well, what is it then?”

“It’s a whole family of skunks.” 

“Dead skunks?…in the ductwork? And in the  plural?”

“No…living ones. A mama skunk and her babies.” 

“There are living skunks in my ductwork?!” 

After a few rounds of  “We’ve never, in all our years of HVAC repair, seen any live animals in the duct work. much less a whole family; and certainly not skunks!” they began to try to decide how to evict the heavily-armed mama from her heated and air-conditioned country ground-level condo. 

It was decided that they’d saw off a length of the duct pipe and quickly squeeze the ends of the aluminum and insulation tubing, keeping the animals inside. Then they would take the varmints into the woods behind our house and set them free. It was a sight to watch those guys carefully carrying six feet of duct work across our yard and then releasing a whole skunk menagerie onto the grass in the edge of that wooded lot.  You can watch that here if you really want to:

That mama skunk wasted no time getting just beyond the brush and behind some trees to peer back and keep a watch on those  baby skunks. Six of them. Six tiny little skunks huddled together on the grass. Each one of those six baby skunks is probably going to cost us about  five or six hundred dollars. All the ductwork beneath our house has got to be replaced. 

The most interesting phenomena was the human responses to the situation. Perspective is what makes the philosophical world go ‘round. Here are a few from that stinkin’ moment when seven skunks were residing in the airways at Serenity: 

Glenn: “We’ve got to get rid of them, without the spray on us all. We can shoot them.” 

Big, brawny HVAC man #1: “ Well, there’s babies. We need to find a way to let them go.”

Big, brawny HVAC boss-man: “I really would like to take one of these babies home with me. You can have them de-scented,” 

Rebekah: “They are SOOOOO cute!”

Colleyanna (in a concerned “I-know-my-Papa” voice: “Mammy, what are you goin’ to DO wif doze baby skunks?”

Me: “I’m going outside and take a few pictures.”

Hannah: “Seriously?!!…Baby skunks in the ductwork. That’s amazing!”

Molly: “Mrs Cindy, DO it! Keep one. They are like a cross between a cat and a dog.”

Ezra: “Let me see the video, Mammy!”

Eliza Jane (in a deep motherly tone_: “AAAAAAwwwwWWWWW,”

Glenn again: “Has everyone forgotten that these are SKUNKS?! They are SKUNKS!” 

Glenn and I are in a different city tonight and we think we can still smell them. They wreaked havoc. They will end up costing several thousand dollars. They will grow up into little beasts from which we will run for our lives. They will be a tribe of big skunks in the back woods next year. They will form a union, claim they are being abused, and declare their rights to return to their native habitat. They are the stuff of which bad jokes, puns and fables are made. But those little skunk babies were ridiculously cute. So are the grandchildren who were begging for their lives. These grandkids don’t get everything they want, of course. But, let’s just say, when a skunk runs across the driveway next spring and Colleyanna is afraid to get out of the car (like this spring) I will remind her of how cute they were lying out there in the grass. 

It’s a vacation I will never forget. It surely had all the e-scent-ial elements: family, adventure, memories, and accommodating airlines. 

(Also, it IS important to look at the stinkin’ things in life and properly identify them as such. Coddling the wicked comes with a big price.)

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