The Skunk Boy has been busy building up to Halloween. On Thursday, we went trick-or-treating among the businesses in town. On Friday, we went to a Halloween science exhibit. Our little pole cat was involved in a three-way tie in the cutest costume contest. Way to go, Skunk Boy!
On Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed an event at the nature center. The boy was not sick of his costume yet. He seemed quite comfortable in his skunk skin, although the skunk cap did tend to get a bit warm.
The event highlight was a hayride, which consisted of some sort of all-terrain vehicle pulling a large utility cart lined with bales of straw. We were satisfied with this; the way led through the woods on narrow trails, and, face it, a ride is a ride.
The tour guide in our hay wagon/utility cart was dressed up in a costume as well. “Can you tell what I’m dressed as?” she asked the group as we eased forward.
She had layers of textured patches, in varying shades of brown, covering her torso and a patchy hood over her head. “A crazy homeless hoarder woman?” I guessed under my breath.
“That’s right! I’m an owl!” she announced with glee. Apparently, some of the children had busied themselves with being perceptive during my gratuitous mumbling.
She sure knew enough about owls to be one. She told us all about owls: how their talons are sharp and strong, how they swoop down upon their prey. “What do owls eat?” she asked.
The kids tossed out animal names: squirrels, rabbits, mice, etc. I looked at my son. “Skunks,” I added. The boy laughed. It’s easy to laugh when you are a mondo skunk and think you’re too heavy to be carried off.
“Some owls are strong enough to carry a small deer,” our guide helpfully informed us. My son’s smile faded.
“But they would never do that,” she added and my son breathed easy, “under normal conditions.” Normal conditions? Is a 44-pound skunk riding on a bale of straw in a utility cart pulled by all-terrain vehicle a normal condition to an owl? Or is that just the kind of sight that gets owls thinking that it might be nice to do a little power lifting and bag a Guinness Book skunk? Imagine being four and trying to figure that out.
Our path led into the woods, which seemed to lessen the danger of owl attacks. The novelty of seeing spooky decorations hanging from the trees distracted us from further thoughts of owl massacres.
When we emerged into the clearing again, the giant owl at the back of our cart was still talking about owl eyes and hunting schedules. These owls will go on and on about themselves. My boy was no longer concerned.
“Owls hunt at night. That makes them what?” the owl lady asked.
I nudged my son for an answer. “Nocturnal,” he yawned. Riding without a care in the afternoon sun, he had already figured that out.