Conversations with my wife: Early birds

If it’s not the skunks, it’s the birds. None of God’s creatures wants us to get a good night’s rest.

I’ve mentioned before how we have a thriving skunk community in our neighborhood. They like to offer their perfumes to us in the night. If you’ve ever shared property with skunks, you know they can jolt you out of a stone dead sleep without saying a word.

The skunks come around from time to time, but in summer, the birds are out every morning. I have no problem with the birds. I’m a country boy; their joyful chirping doesn’t bother me. My wife, who is not a country boy, is driven up the wall by their chatter. By the laws of marriage (“for better or worse, richer or poorer, through plagues of birds, etc.”) this makes the birds my problem.

Every morning, not long after sunrise, the birds wake my wife, who reacts by closing the windows in our bedroom. Country boys are not accustomed to the noise of windows being closed on a pleasant June morning. Consequently, this wakes me up.

“Close the window if you don’t want to hear the morning announcements!”


WIFE: Sorry to wake you, but those birds are at it again.

ME: They’re just letting you know , “It’s morning time!”

WIFE: Could they whisper it? Or maybe wait until 7 o’clock? Let’s just leave the windows closed all night.

ME: It gets too hot in here. I’d likely be a wreck every morning.

WIFE: Let’s risk it.

ME: You know, some people buy recordings of birds singing to relax them.

WIFE: Singing? They call that singing? It sounds more like a brawl.

ME: Do you also hate the sound of a gentle rain?

WIFE: I swear, one of them is about to pull a knife.

ME: What about the ocean surf?

WIFE: The ocean is fine. It’s all one constant noise, not all these different notes and pitches these birds have.

ME: So if we could get more birds, and their noises all blended together . . .

WIFE: Have you ever heard bickering that blended together?

Not in our house, I haven’t. Wife wins that round.


The three words that best describe you are Stink, Stank, Stunk

Conventional wisdom says wildlife is the innocent victim when people move into the swamps. The animals in our neck of the swamp couldn’t be happier that such a generous species came and built houses for them to live under.

Here comes trouble

Doesn’t matter the season, these guys are always ready to drop in.

The deer love our gardens. Our bird feeders save the squirrels untold time and effort finding 18 square meals per day. The “Little Man who lives under the porch” (probably a woodchuck, though ethnic origins shouldn’t matter) burrows himself into our hospitality often. Field Mice have bunked with our accommodating cat.

life in the suburbs

Then there was this guy, who took a four-hour nap in our back yard last fall.

In February, a skunk set up housekeeping under our deck. We’ve entertained skunks before, but this one was special. Every night it would light up our house with the tangiest batch of squeezin’s we’d ever breathed.

Having repelled its kind before with ammonia-soaked rags, this was our first defense. But when it is 0°F (-18°C) outside, ammonia does more freezing than stinking. Skunks stink grandly at any temperature.

It got so bad it kept us up all night, and some of us puked. My wife claimed it was making her uterus contract, which seemed a stretch, but maybe not.

Animal Control would attempt to trap the skunk for many bags of gold, but for some reason they didn’t feel confident of success. They said it was probably a female, attracting a mate.

That tore it.

It’s one thing to be smoked out of your home by some poor creature protecting herself, but we run a respectable household. She could do her whorin’ elsewhere. We weren’t about to stand idle while Pepina Le Pew advertised booty calls with her Love Potion Number Noxious.

le pew

Get your girl, Pepe, or you’re gonna find your brood a little larger than you bargained for. (Warner Bros.)

My wife had the first whack. “I went out with a baseball bat, but she wasn’t there,” she said.

“You realize you could have got sprayed?” I asked.

Her voice was monotone, the cold, murderous voice of exhaustion. “Yeah, but she’d be dead. It’d be so worth it.”

I bought stuff skunks dislike and air freshener. Lots of air freshener. All the different brands.

I tied dryer bags of Stank Skank’s least favorite things all around the deck. (The air freshener was for us.) My fingers were good and numb by the end, but that was a small price. We put as much noise and light on the area as we could.

It seemed to get her out from under the deck, but lonely boys with time on their hands still came looking for a little stinking tenderness at night. Periodic whiffs of her jilted lovers’ agonies sent us spiraling into Post Traumatic Skunk Disorder.

We built a snow berm around the deck to make it harder to use as a kiosk for their scented love notes. With the help of used kitty litter we seem to be making progress. The attacks are fewer, but I won’t declare victory until we can invite company into our house again.

snow fortress

The arrival of March means our snow fortress is melting. I hope this doesn’t mean a pick up in business for the brothel.

And my wife’s uterus? Someone explained it this way: She was smelling the pheromones of the dominant female in heat. Her body was syncing itself to that lead.

I was a little surprised at how easily my wife rolled over for a skunk. But I felt better when I recalled that she was about to go get her Alpha crown back with a baseball bat. Now that’s my girl.

Skunk Boy meets the Owl Woman

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.

Skunk costume halloween

Skunk Boy plants himself next to the “Hayrides” sign and patiently awaits his turn. It’s refreshing to witness such civilized behavior from a skunk.

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.

boy in skunk costume riding kayak

An owl would never pluck a skunk out of the kayak he was paddling on dry land . . . under normal conditions.

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.