Friday, May 20, 2016

Visiting Dad’s Cousin, Part 1

Dad’s Aunt, Wilmar Shiras, wrote a book called “Children of the Atom” that’s a bit of a science fiction classic. Dad claims that it was inspired in part by watching her children struggle to fit in at school. The eldest of her children was very close to Dad’s age. That’s the one Dad is close to, so that’s the one I know.

As I said before, this cousin and her husband used to live in a residential neighborhood with an unusual number of wild animals right in the neighborhood. At least it seemed that way to me when Dad and I visited when I was a teenager. {Smile}

I also mentioned that she started leaving dogfood out for the raccoons, because she is a great animal lover. Then the skunks found out and took over. Most people I know would stop leaving out dogfood at this point. Not Dad’s cousin. She continued to leave dogfood out for the skunks for years. I always did wonder what the neighbors thought of this. {wink, Smile}

That was all before I got there. By the time I did, Dad had visited twice without me: once when she was leaving out dogfood for the raccoons, and once when she was leaving it out for the skunks already. By the time I got to visit, too, the skunks were Very Well Settled In. When I visited, one of the first things I was told that I would be sharing a small apartment with Dad’s cousin’s husband’s granddaughter by his first marriage, who was staying with them all summer, and working for them in their laboratory as a summer job.

After dinner and whatever we did afterwards, I was ready to go up tot he apartment to get ready for bed. The route from the main house to the apartment went right past the skunk’s food bowls, but I was told not to worry. Just walk firmly, and they shouldn’t bother me. Well, I found the bowls... and skunk planted right in the middle of the pathway I was supposed to use.

I froze, startled.

The skunk stared at me, showing no fear.

Remembering they’d said the skunks shouldn’t bother me, I started forward hesitantly.

The skunk went thump-thump-thump-thump-thump with his front paws.

I froze.

I’d recently read or heard (I remembered which back then) that skunks did a kind of stamping gesture as a warning before spraying, because they didn’t like the odor any more than anyone else did. This must be what they meant.

I turned around and walked briskly back to the main house. There I found Dad’s cousin’s husband. I told him about the skunk.

“What? Don’t worry about the skunks,” he said.

“But he stamped at me, and that’s supposed to be warning.”

“Just shoo them off. They won’t bother you.”

“You know how to do that. I don’t!” I told him, “Please help me. You said you would.”

“Oh, for crying out... come on, and keep up.”

He stormed out of the house and up the walk, shooing away the skunks very firmly when he reached the bowls.

I did follow him... at least 20 paces behind him. I hoped that was enough distance if he was wrong about the skunks...

He wasn’t. They left promptly for him, and he escorted me right up to the door of the apartment. I thanked him profusely, of course. {BRIGHT SMILE}

Then he left. I actually didn’t have trouble with the skunks after that. Maybe my escort that first night put me on their approved list or something. But I didn’t get sprayed, and that was the important thing as far as I was concerned. {wink, BIG GRIN}
Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


  1. Sounds like your cousin's family had watch-skunks. :)

  2. {thoughtful look} Maybe you're right; watch-skunks who wanted any guests to be properly introduced. {wink, SMILE}