Friday, October 7, 2022

It's that time of year when I have to deal with skunks on my early-morning walks

I'm out power walking most mornings these days. I usually hit the road by 6am and follow a 2.3-mile loop around Miller and West Miller avenues.

It's a beautiful time for morning walks, too, given the conditions. I love 50 degrees and dry, as it often is in Northeast Ohio in early October.

The flip side is that this is also the time when the skunks come out.

I don't know why, but while I never see a skunk in my neighborhood over the summer, they're suddenly out in full force every morning come, say, mid-September. For the next couple of months, there will be more mornings when I see a skunk than mornings I don't.

I assume they're foraging for food. I don't begrudge them that.

But I'm still terrified of them.

I know, I know, they eat insects and small rodents that can wreak havoc. And they're valuable members of the food chain and it's the Circle of Life and blah blah blah.

None of that changes the intrinsic evil of the skunk.

Many of the skunks seem to congregate on the West Miller part of my walk. Once I set foot on that street, I tense up and start scanning the sides of the road for the tell-tale white stripe and low-to-the-ground ambling of Mephitis mephitis.

It's dark when I walk, so there have been times when I've come within 10 feet of a skunk before we both realize the other is there.

I stop in my tracks, while he/she lifts his/her head and raises his/her tail.

Ten feet, you see, is the range a skunk can spray. I back away from the encounter much faster than I walk into it, believe me.

My biggest fear is being right on top of a skunk before I know it's there and getting blasted.

One time, back in my running days, I was cruising down Euclid Avenue at 5:30 in the morning on garbage day, which meant everyone's trash cans were set out on the sidewalk, just a foot or two from where I was running. A skunk looking for breakfast came out from between two cans just as I passed by and my foot grazed his head.

I saw him at the last possible second and took off sprinting. When I came back through that area 15 minutes later on the return part of my loop, the smell of skunk spray was intense. He had reacted to our surprise encounter with the best defense nature had given him.

So anyway, I've taken to changing my walking route most October mornings, though that doesn't guarantee skunk-free status. They can be anywhere this time of year (and it doesn't help that many of the streets in my neighborhood have minimal street lighting and/or street lights timed to turn off while it's still dark).

"Walk later in the day, then," you might say. That would help, but my schedule doesn't usually allow for it. I work all day, and evenings are almost always taken up with some sort of activity. Early morning is my exercise window, so I've got to take advantage of it.

I'm not at all a fan of treadmills  though I'll use them in a hotel when I'm traveling  so I don't consider that an option.

The only thing I can do is stay alert and pray Terry will let me back into the house should I ever end up on the unfortunate end of a skunk spraying attack.

I would rather wear a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey than have that happen. And believe me...that's saying something.

(NOTE: It occurred to me after I wrote this that, while skunks can be a nuisance for walkers and runners, I still don't have to deal with the fear of being assaulted by another human being as my female walking and running counterparts do. They have to live with (and prepare for) that possibility every day, while the chances of it happening to me are much, much lower. They undoubtedly have it worse. I'll take the possibility of a skunk encounter any day over that.)

No comments:

Post a Comment