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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The perils of skunks and round hairbrushes.

We have an intruder. One that strikes fear into the heart at first glance and sends adrenalin coursing through the veins. I first caught sight of this infiltrator when I stopped to feed the cats on the way to the barn. Among the puddle of grey, white and tabby kittens gathered around the feeding dish, a distinctive black-and-white one caught my eye.
Now, you may have heard of the fight-or-flight reflex. Apparently I don’t have it. When I’m scared, I freeze. So when that little baby skunk noticed me noticing him, he just turned and calmly padded back under the work bench. And then I exhaled.
In a previous life, I had a paper route early early in the morning. Occasionally, on garbage day, I would see baby skunks rooting around in the rubbish. At one point I mentioned this to my sister (the wildlife resources expert in the family), and she said that the baby skunks don’t spray. So the next day when I did my pre-dawn paper route and saw a skunkling with its head stuck in a yogurt cup, I dared to grab the container and pop it off his head. Nothing happened. The creature shot me a grateful look, gave his head a shake, and waddled away. Slowly. Without spraying.
I haven’t googled baby skunks to see if they spray or not. Perhaps I should. Because the one in my horse stable is probably still there.
We have had skunks before. Big ones. We see (smell) them every spring and fall. Last year a mama skunk raised her family under the girls’ playhouse. The Farmer got his cage traps out and baited them with smelly fish heads. (We don’t normally have a stock of smelly fish heads at the ready; he just happened to have been out fishing that day). The next morning, there was a barn cat in each trap. Every night he baited the traps, and every morning another cat was in them.
Perhaps when I am googling the stinking capabilities of baby skunks I should also research ways to repel them.
I left the Farmer and our children to their own devices early last week, while I travelled to Montreal on a business trip. I enjoy Montreal, with its cultural diversity and fantastic restaurants. It was a working trip, however, so I fell into bed every night absolutely exhausted. The three days went by in a blur, but they were not without their memorable yet surreal moments.
At one point on the second day, as I was piloting our rental SUV through construction on Rue Sherbrooke, I made the comment to those in my midst: “I cannot believe I am driving through downtown Montreal with a retired Indian Chief, a documentary film director and a historian as my passengers. This is not a situation that I find myself in every day.”
The Indian Chief proved to be a worse passenger than my own teenagers, waving at people on street corners and asking them if they knew who he was. He was an extremely jovial character, despite the fact that he had recently broken his back and we had to take many bumpy detours to get him to the train station through all the roadwork. I didn’t hear one complaint about my driving however, even when I turned right on a red light. He just made a strange moaning sound.
On the second night of our mini film tour, I realized that I had not packed a hairbrush. (Don’t ask me why I hadn’t noticed before; I am an extremely low-maintenance chick). I ran down to the hotel gift shop and purchased the only hairbrush they had in stock (I kid you not): a round brush with a plastic handle shaped like the body of a naked woman. The clerk asked me “is this the one you want?” I just looked at him. “Yes. I want the blue one.”
“Okay it will make beautiful hairstyle,” he promised, rather ominously.
The next morning, I took a quick glance in the mirror and decided I only needed to shower and do a quick wet-and-blow-dry of the front of my hair. Having seen Shannon Tweed on the TV show Family Jewels using a round brush to smooth her hair, I thought I would attempt her technique. I immediately got the hairbrush firmly STUCK in the front of my hair, right above my forehead, and it was wound tightly to the root. There was no way to easily extract the instrument of torture. Shannon Tweed I am not.
Just then, there was a knock on my door. I peeked through the peephole and there was my boss, in town for business, fully dressed in a suit and tie.
“Hey Di. Can we go for coffee and review this proposal before my breakfast meeting?” He asked, oblivious to my plight.
I answered that I would need a few minutes. For the next 20, I yanked, twisted, tugged, laughed and cried. The hairbrush would not come loose. I debated calling the director’s room to see if she had a pair of scissors or a strange German remedy to unstick hairbrushes. Eventually I just pulled the hairs off the brush or out of my scalp, a few at a time. I plopped a ball cap on my head, grabbed my notebook and headed off to Starbucks with the boss.
I now have a distinctly thin and quite tender spot above my forehead. My hairstylist is going to love this one. I will save the risque hairbrush to show him.
When I returned to the farm after my trip, the distinct smell of skunk hung in the air. Obviously someone had discovered the creature in the stable. I had a nice welcome home however; the Farmer and one of the offspring had cleaned the entire house. And no one said anything about my bald spot.

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