Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Butterflies, Wildflowers, and Skunks


All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all. 

by Cecil Frances Alexander


The above chorus was one of my favorite songs in Sunday school, and I'll tell you in a minute why its been in my head all week.


We have had about 4 inches of rain in the last 10 days in our area. Not all at once, and not always as heavy thunderstorms. But when it isn't raining, we have had beautiful summer days up here in the UP, and most days Bear, Ike, and I take our routine stroll to the mailbox.


We pass by this culvert full of forget-me-nots,


then stop and snap a shot of these wildflowers,


and admire the butterflies. We have so many this year!


Of course, Ike and Bear pay no mind to me, except to look over their shoulder every now and then wondering if they should wait for me to catch up. Naw, they have better things to look for - like mice, chipmunks, or red squirrels, or maybe even a snake to toy around with (like yesterday).


But a few days back, they were side by side, noses to the ground, zig-zagging in the tall weeds on the trail of some critter. I was scared to death it may be a porcupine, (no, they show no indication that they have learned their lesson from last spring's encounters). 


Spring 2011. Ike in the backseat of my car on the way to the vet. Again.


Anyway, I hollered for Ike and Bear to get back on the road, even going so far as to promise them a treat.

But they didn't listen, and yes, they knew I was lying. 

I can't carry treats when I have one hand on my camera, a free hand to swat the black, brown, deer, bomber, and all-species-in-between flies, my pedometer in my pocket to measure the steps I take each day, always falling short of the recommended 10,000 steps (WHO walks that much in one day, anyways, especially in the bug infested UP? Thank goodness it only gets better once June passes.), an old lady's hair net in the other pocket to put over my head in case swatting no longer works.

But I was desperate. 

I watched as Bear came out of the weeds, relieved that at least she was going to listen, but then watched in horror as she approached some animal in the tall weeds on the other side of the road. All I could make out was either a head, or the tip of a bushy tail. Either way, these two sized each other up, still as stone, nose to nose. I pleaded with Bear to come, and she slowly turned away from the creature and proceeded to walk down the road towards me. Somehow through all of this, Ike had joined me at my side, possibly thinking I was having a mental breakdown and he should see if he could help in some way. Then I got a whiff of what it was. Skunk!

Lucky for all of us, the dogs had commenced on their walk to the mailbox. Bear smelled fine so I knew she hadn't been in the path of the spray. The skunk sprayed after Bear turned away. So as not to alert them to the possibility the creature(s) they had been hunting might be in plain view very soon, I pretended I was following the dogs all the while walking backwards in hopes of seeing which way Pepe' Le Pew decided to travel. I still had to get the dogs back home taking this same route. Sure enough, not quite a baby any more, but not an adult skunk either, the critter crossed the road, head and tail held high, and disappeared into the weeds.

I took a deep breath. I was far enough from the stench that I could. We had survived so far. Perhaps Pepe' and his family would move on. When I caught up with Ike and Bear at the mailbox, I proceeded to tell them what good dogs they were for listening (but next time could you hurry it up a little?), and repeated my mantra over and over like I do after porcupine encounters: 

You don't chase skunks,
you don't chase skunks,
bad dogs,
you don't chase skunks...

Yah, whatever. They were too busy looking for rodents.

But wait. Not the end of the story. 

We head back home, and we get through the spot without incident...walking, walking, the scent of the skunk still lingering in the air...when all of a sudden Ike shoots into the woods like a bullet from a gun.

When he emerges, (after another fitful of my calling and bribing), he has his tail between his legs. The pungent spray he has received has him staggering, slowly, along the edge of the road, kind of crooked, kind of like he has just come from the local watering hole. Bear and I walked/ran as fast as we could home to get away from him.


PeeeeUuuuuu.
Needless to say, he spent the rest of the day in the kennel. 

But getting back to the chorus above...why did God make skunks and porcupines?
Humph. I'm just saying it would save a lot of canines (and their maniac owners) a lot of  trouble...:)

These days, we are back to loving Ike up, the slight smell on his shoulders and forehead still a vague reminder of why... 

you don't chase skunks...
or porcupines...
or sand hill cranes...
or deer...
or moose...

Oh, and here's a picture as promised to my mother who texted me yesterday and asked how my garden is doing.


In closing, I want to share my exciting news that I applied and was granted a Bear license. It only took 7 years of applying, but hey, who's counting. (Actually, we all do! It's a loooong process, and the state of Michigan offered 3,000 less this year than in previous years.) 

Come September, I hope to get me a black bear! Big grin.













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