I’m trying to make an active effort to get out and walk in the evening on days when I’m more sedentary at work. It’s that Garmin smart watch I bought myself for Christmas that’s now watching my every step. I get gold bars and vibrating fireworks when I meet my daily goals, and sad blue bars when I don’t. The watch isn’t angry with me when I slack off, but it’s very, very disappointed.
Having now conditioned myself to be aware of this, most days if I haven’t already met my daily goal I’m at least pretty close, so a quick evening stroll to the end of the block and back will do the trick. Today however was one of the days when I was glued to the desk, so I was way short. (“Way short” in this case is about 1,800 steps, roughly a mile.) It’s a lovely evening and the weather might be turning toward the cool and rainy over the next few days (more on that later, I’m sure) so a quick trip around the block and over to the next one was in order.
It really was very calming and pleasant. 63° F with no breeze, a few high clouds but you can still see Jupiter high overhead and Arcturus rising in the southeast like the Eye of Sauron.
As I looped back past our street and headed toward the next block over to loop around there, I saw a critter crossing the street as I crossed. It was two or three hundred yards away, looked like a cat.
As I headed down the block behind ours I saw the critter loping along the sidewalk toward me and then turning to scoot down the sidewalk parallel to me on the other side of the street. It moved funny, not like a cat at all. Not really like a raccoon either, but for the size and all that’s what I assumed it was.
I kept walking down my side of the street. It kept walking down its side of the street. I kept an eye on it, starting to feel… Well, let’s say that I was starting to have a bad feeling about the situation.
I moved under a streetlight and it was in shadows. I moved off into the shadows on my sidewalk and it came into the light on its side. Cat-sized, black, arched back, sort of funny gait, huge tail sticking straight up over its back, white stripe…
I didn’t break into a run, partly because I didn’t want to spook it, partly because I was still in my good work clothes. It was still across the street and not moving toward me, but if someone came out of their door with a dog, or we went by a yard with a dog in the backyard that spooked it, I didn’t want to be that close.
We know they’re in the neighborhood. Twice Jessie went after one and got sprayed good. We’ll often smell them somewhere in the neighborhood, and it’s not uncommon to have it so strong that your eyes are watering. On one occasion I’ve actually been a lot closer and lived to tell the tale.
But let’s not be stupid.
The skunk eventually found the yard that it was looking for and ducked through a hole in the fence. Good luck and good night – happy hunting for those grubs and bugs and whatever else it is you eat! My wrist just started vibrating and I’ve got confetti on my display, so I’ll be heading home.