Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Skunks have no appeal as cute household pets

"The skunk is an attractive little animal that makes a delightful pet ... " Don’t believe that! I read it in the encyclopedia, but I’ve encountered a few and never gave "pet" a thought. In fact, we had Joe Garity, a city fellow, working at the dairy when I was a mischievous kid, and I teased him with a rhyme:

Joe and man from the city/Saw what he thought was a kitty./He gave it a pat and/Soon after that he buried his clothes! What a pity!

Joe hadn’t done that, of course, but he did something equally dumb: The neighbors’ ducks wandered a long way to get over to our dairy milk house and were thirsty on arriving. Joe was in the milk house washing up the milk cans and strainers, and the ducks insisted on coming in to slurp up some water from the wet floor. Joe got the hose and tried to scare them off with water! The ducks loved it.

The closest I ever got to a live skunk was on a bicycle ride one morning from Columbia to Harrisburg. The late Mrs. Betty Bretz and I packed lunches and made a leisurely ride, the first one in spring. Somewhere along the way, we rode up behind a skunk pitty-patting along, minding her own business. We didn’t talk, lest we’d arouse her defense mechanism. We considered crossing to the wrong side of the road, but just then Madam Skunk decided to cross, and we were afraid she’d spy us and spray. But we didn’t want to stop, either. We pedaled on at the same speed and soon left the skunk behind.

Talking it over we realized the bikes offered no harm, no noise; we were pleased that she wasn’t on the road when we returned.

Another encounter was on our one-lane road at night. Walt was following me home in his little English Mimi Cooper vehicle, and a skunk was trotting along in the path of my right front wheel. I slowed and stopped, he drove up behind me and asked, "What’s the matter?" I just pointed and said, "You go first, if you want." Skunk stayed in the track for a very long time and finally crossed the ditch into the government land. Walt coined a phrase: "environmental crisis."

Our friend, Burton "Sug" Leach, was enrolled in a pre-med class at the university — an advanced physiology course or something — and he was doing some kind of project that required a live skunk! His mother, Francis Stice, asked me at choir practice, "Sue, where would Sug find a live skunk?" I thought it was a joke.

We hoped she’d not be on the road after lunch when we returned.


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