And yet, there is at least one more season here in the eastern part of the state. It begins annually in February and typically lasts for about four to six weeks. Its presence, too, is typically announced via the airwaves, only not so much through sight or sound as through smell. I am speaking, of course, of skunk mating season!
As is evidenced by the number of dead skunks littering the roadways, they are clearly more active in this six week period than at any other time of the year. Indeed, between here and the nearest town to where we live, I counted the carcasses of no less than four unlucky skunks on an earlier trip today.
As unfortunate as this is, I must admit that I would rather encounter a dead skunk than a live one any day of the week. I can generally avoid contact with a dead one. If not, it is usually only because I myself have been careless. But no matter how careful any individual is, whether out driving or walking, encountering a live skunk can be an experience that leaves its mark!
In fact, one does not even have to see a nearby skunk to suffer the consequences of having encountered it. As pedestrians know, the odor can linger in a given area for quite some time. And woe be unto any hapless motorist whose automobile sucks in skunk odor through its ventilation system. The smell will often linger inside an automobile for miles after it has passed the animal’s location.
Once, when she was a teenager living in Georgia, my wife was riding with her parents up to their home state of Tennessee to visit her grandmother for the weekend. As they passed the state line, she rolled down the window and proudly proclaimed: “Ah, smell that good Tennessee air!” Just then, they were all immediately overcome by the acrid smell of skunk spray! That episode will live on in our family lore for years to come!
Still, it is far better to meet a skunk in a car than on foot. As one who has done both on multiple occasions, I can certainly attest to this. Passing through an area of skunk smell at 55 miles per hour is a mere nuisance compared to finding oneself afoot and face to face with an animal that has both a loaded barrel and a hair trigger!
Whenever the latter occurrence unfolds, as it has for me on more than one occasion while out walking, let’s just say that it calls for tact and diplomacy at the highest levels! After all, as Bobby Sunderland once so eloquently put it, “A dog can likely whip a skunk; but in the end, it may not be worth it!” For this reason, I have always chosen to give any skunk I have encountered a very wide berth!
Of course, skunks are not the only creatures that can leave a negative impression upon others. Although it would be for slightly different reasons, I’m quite sure the same can be said of lions and tigers and bears. And sadly, it can also be said of fellow humans!
Very likely, you know what I am talking about here. Who among us has not had the unfortunate experience of crossing paths with a person who created a stink most everywhere they went? And who among us has not left such an encounter with our senses, feelings, and or well-being all askew from their offensive output?!
In truth, once we encounter the likes of such a person, do we not tend to avoid them at all costs in the future? Sure we do! And well we should. There are good reasons that so many of the Old Testament Proverbs admonish us to avoid foolish and imprudent people.
I suppose about the only thing worse than encountering such a person is being such a person. In His famed “Sermon on the Mount”, recorded in Matthew 7:12, Jesus taught us to observe what has been termed “The Golden Rule”. Therein, He told us that we should always treat others just as we would have them treat us.
And so, if you dislike encountering someone who always tends to spew offensive vitriol your way, leaving you awash in their animosity, bitterness, self-pity, or the like, then try not to be such a person yourself. What could be sadder than having others see you in any such light, unless it is being this way and failing to see yourself as you truly are?