Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Camping Follies #1. Summer, 1988
While camping with my family in the summer of 1988 at New Germany State Park we had an encounter with a skunk, which explains the picture of the skunk at the top of this little story. So why then do I have a picture of a possum as well? I'll tell you.
Up until Saturday evening we had had a wonderful time. Skippy was 6, Dimples was 2 and was enjoying her first camping trip. We fished, we swam, we cooked over a fire...okay we toasted marshmallows. Got a Coleman stove for cooking. Skippy had caught several bluegills earlier in the day and Dimples had caught her first fish, a sunfish. Although at the time she wasn't in a celabratory mood. It was mid-afternoon and she wanted her 'binky' and a nap.
After supper we took a walk around the camping area and stopped at the swings so the kids could burn off a little energy and maybe go to sleep on time, leaving me and the Little Woman to have a little peace and quiet. After the sun went down, we gathered around the fire and toasted masrshmallows and laughed as Skippy entertained us...being 6 and goofy it was easy for him. After several char-broilled marshmallows, Dimples crawls up in her mother's lap and announces she's tired. Great! Skippy is slowing down too. There is a God and he loves me...I thought. I'm also thinking that as soon as Skippy loses altitude it's time to crawl into Goody Two Shoes Sleeping bag...while she's in it as well. You get the idea. But it wasn't to be.
'Hon,' I hear Goody Two Shoes say. "Hon,' she says again, this time a little more urgently. 'There's something moving under that tree over there.' There was a row of pine trees running along the back edge of our campsite. Goody Two Shoes was sitting in a folding lawn chair next to the fire ring about 20 feet from the tree line when her eyes caught something moving under one of the trees.
Following her eyes, I looked and (I SWEAR) I saw a white(ish) critter poking its way along, not bothering anyone. 'It's just a possum,' I said. A minute later I found out how wrong I was. The critter slowly ambled out into the flickering light and we saw it wasn't a possum. 'It's a skunk,' Goody Two Shoes keenly observed.
No crap, it's a skunk. I can see that now...I said this to myself. I'm already in trouble for this, no sense in ending up in divorce court.
'What do we do?' she whispered. 'Stay perfectly still,' I said as I motioned for Skippy to come to me. Picking up our son I moved a few paces to my left and quietly opened the door of my Jeep Wagoneer and set him in the front seat. 'Can we keep it, Dad?' he asks. 'Are you our of your...never mind,' I said, closing the door. Turning back around I stood helplessly and watched as Stinky walked around the fire ring, under the chair my wife and daughter were sitting in, and the whole time I'm praying that Dimples doesn't wake up, see our guest and yell 'KITTY.' If she had I would have been in divorce court faster than the speed of light. Next, Stinky goes over to the picnic table and had a good sniff, then headed for our tent. 'Great balls of fire, I left the flap open,' I said as I motioned for Goody Two Shoes to come to me. Taking Dimples, I set her in the Jeep with her brother. 'No pushing or kicking,' I said, before closing the door.
Standing next to my wife, we watched as our guest checked out our sleeping quarters. 'Where do me and the kids sleep if he sprays in there?'she asked. 'In the Jeep with me,' I answered. 'Wanna bet, Tarzan?; she says, 'that skunk sprays in our tent and you're on the picnic table. Honestly, how could you mistake a skunk for a possum? I thought you were a Boy Scout?' 'That was a long time ago,' I said, defending myself.
Fortunately, Stinky moved on and we slept in our tent and my marriage was saved. However, Skippy was mad cause I wouldn't let him keep Stinky, Dimples was mad because she couldn't kick her brother, and Goody Two Shoes...to this day...hasn't let me forget that night. However all isn't lost. I learned that female skunks have a wider white stripe on their backs than their male counterparts. I also learned...for future camping trips...that if you see a little critter walking under anything at any time, day or night, assume it's a skunk and run like mad.