Of Yellow Jackets and Skunks…

I woke early yesterday, looking forward to my weekly Quiet Day, when Stephen goes to work and I have a day of solitude and silence. Always a day I look forward to and relish from start to finish. I try to have everything cleaned up the day before and no unwelcome chores to do on my Quiet Day. (I often do laundry on nice days like yesterday, because I love hanging laundry on the line, but I definitely don’t vacuum on Quiet Days!) I minimize my time online until later in the day, and I avoid talking on the phone or texting. I read, walk, pray, sit with Petra, Milo, or Acadia on my lap, snuggle with Rowan, lie in the grass, sketch, paint, hang laundry and then bring it in all clean and fresh, and so on.

I like to wake up extra early on my Quiet Day, since early mornings seem wonderfully magical when I have nothing scheduled. So yesterday when I woke up I thought of the day ahead and took a deep breath of the fresh, cool 51 degrees flowing through my window. Then I let Petra and Milo out. Rowan often opts to sleep in when I get up early, and thankfully that was his preference yesterday morning.

A moment after the dogs went out into the dim predawn light, Milo bayed loudly (is there any other way a Beagle bays?). Uh oh! I ran outside to be greeted by no-longer-pleasant 51 degree air and two very smelly dogs… two dogs skunked at 5AM! My first thought was how very thankful I was that my very furry Rowan was still in bed. My next thought was that this was a bit of a drag of a way to start my Quiet Day.

Stephen came out and we watched the skunk from the deck. She (of course I didn’t get close enough to see if it was a he or she, but it was so pretty I’m calling it a she) was small– maybe two thirds the size of an adult- and she clearly wasn’t in a hurry to leave. As we watched, she pranced along the fence, tail high and waving, then stopped and spent a long time nosing in the grass in one spot, before she finally wandered off and out of sight.

I rummaged through a cabinet and found a couple of bottles of Skunk Odor Remover and an old sponge. I changed from my nice pajamas into some rags, and thoroughly sponged off the dogs. Poor Milo was starting to shiver in the chilly morning air– funny that the skunk waited till the first chilly morning to spray the dogs. I gave the dogs some marrow bones to occupy them while the enzymatic odor remover worked, and while I mixed up a home remedy of peroxide, baking soda, and dawn dish detergent, then I brought the dogs in and bathed them thoroughly.

A little later I went out to hang laundry and went to look at the spot where the skunk had been nosing around, right by my clothesline. Two large sections of yellow jacket hive had been dug out of the ground and the yellow jackets eaten. I may not have liked my dogs getting sprayed, but I am very thankful that this young skunk so ably dealt with the yellow jackets. No yellow jackets to sting me while hanging laundry, with the bonus of a being able to watch a beautiful nocturnal resident of our land doing the wonderful work she was designed to do. I’ll take it!

Young skunk in the yard

After I got the dogs bathed, my day did actually quiet down, and I had a wonderfully refreshing day. I did have much on my mind, with my heart heavy for my friend who lost her husband the day before, and she has been in my prayers often since then. I sat before God yesterday morning asking him repeatedly to sustain Cindy through this time, to hold her close, to send her close friends to comfort her, to give her his peace that passes understanding. I know that he will, that she will be in his loving care through the very hard times ahead. She will be very much in my prayers in the coming weeks.

As the day went on, I read a book about Sabbath rest (24/6 by Matthew Sleeth– definitely worth reading), walked barefoot in dewy grass, watched hummingbirds, sketched, painted, walked, read psalms, and lay in the sun-warmed grass smelling the rich earth. Overall, a very refreshing day, even though touched with sadness.


Hummingbirds watercolor