It was a ripping, munching sound that tore at Jenelle’s dreams early one morning. She opened a sleepy, tax-return weary eye and looked out the window. There they were on the lawn, big, furry, hungry animals, black with white accent — the skunks had returned.
But these weren’t skunks . . . instead, they were racoons looking for grub-munching goodness.
Racoons and skunks and grubs, oh my! She woke up Jonathan, and he got out the camera.
Apparently, the racoons were social animals, with one big racoon accompanying several little ones. They soon realized that they were being watched, and they made racoon sounds and soon became as curious about us as we were about them. Before long they were only inches from our bedroom window. The younger ones seemed to be the most curious.
A number of years ago, Jenelle took a watercolor painting class at BYU.Â Over the course of a summer term, she painted several lovely scenes that now grace the walls of our living room.Â More recently, Jenelle also learned to cut mats for these paintings.Â Jonathan’s contribution was pounding nails into the wall. . . .
Jonathan did. By moonlight. And porchlight. The biggest black animal with a white stripe you have ever seen. As he was returning to bed after a trip to the bathroom, Jonathan’s keen sense of hearing detected the faint clawing, ripping, and shredding of what is left of our backyard lawn – thanks to our partially opened window. My keen sense of hearing woke me from a deep sleep as I heard him carefully opening the blinds on our bedroom window. He was staring intently out the window, the full moon casting an eerie shadow over the hedges. I got out of bed quietly (since the window was open). We could hear the unmistakable rip of the grass and see a large black shape where the sound was coming from. It was surprising how big the lump of shadow was. It scurried to a new spot on the lawn and then we saw it. The unmistakable white stripe. It was a skunk! Jonathan took a chance and turned on the back porch light. The skunk was undeterred and continued its grub munching frenzy. It seemed to tire easily of its current feast and move to a complete new part of the lawn versus just down the pocked lawn a bit. Perhaps it had already eaten the grubs in that area on its previous trips. I tried to follow its movements out of one window while Jonathan readied the camera. Without warning, he snapped the shutter, but the skunk I was watching was no where near his field of vision. It was then we realized there were really two skunks working their 4 am havock! A big black and white grub-eating polecat Thanksgiving – right in our back yard! So that’s what ate my tomatoes and dug up the flowers! It’s disturbing to think how many grubs must be wiggling in the grass to keep the critters coming back. The lawn is a mass of grass clumps, dead and dried, thrown carelessly next to neat little holes. Did you know they can inflict their oily foul-smelling stuff 15 feet? We didn’t open the door. Though I suggested it – they were intriguing. Jonathan remained more clearheaded in the wee hours and reminded me of this minor factor.
After the reality of 4 am sank in, we called it quits shortly after this, went to bed and resumed our sleep, albeit dreaming of black and white stripes and grub annihilation.
Jenelle’s parents spent the weekend with us here in Oregon.Â A good time was had by all, though I think we wore them out enough that they were glad to go back to regular life and recover from their vacation.Â Highlights included:
- Silver Falls State Park
- Powell’s City of Books
- Crown Point in the Columbia River Gorge
- Larch Mountain and its view of the surrounding peaks
Jenelle and I went camping this weekend.Â While we were sitting at our campsite near the banks of the Clackamas River, we munched peacefully on s’mores until we heard a rustle in the bushes behind us.Â We turned around and found a skunk checking us out.Â My instinct told me to get a picture, but I restrained myself.Â Fortunately, all three of us stayed calm, and nobody got stinky.Â He went his way back into the bushes, and we went to bed.
When we got home the next day, we found that a problem we’ve had with our lawn had gotten worse.Â Mysterious divots (i.e., holes in the grass) have appeared on our back lawn over the past few months.Â The divots underwent a population explosion sometime between Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon, and the lawn looked horrible in some places.Â A little research revealed that some small mammals (including skunks) dig holes like this in grass to get at grubs livings beneath the lawn.Â (Or, there’s a horrible golfer who comes to our backyard to practice in the middle of the night.)Â We haven’t decided how to deal with the skunk-grub problem yet.
By the way, after we got home from camping, we also learned that the striped skunks indigenous to these parts can shoot their stinky stuff 15 feet, and that this can cause blindness.Â This means that we were much too close to that skunk. . . .
We’ve finally posted some of the 2200+ pictures we took on our trip to Antarctica.Â Both long (almost 200) and short (20) versions are available.
Some of our pictures from Christmas are finally on the family site.
Coinciding with his birthday this past week, Jonathan received a nice letter from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) informing him that he is now eligible for membership in that great organization of people 50 years and older. Of course, Jonathan is elated to be associated with this generation of people, some of whom once argued, "Never trust anyone over thirty."
Jonathan is presently busying himself with important AARP-related issues, including Social Security, the prescription drug benefit, and Matlock reruns.
Back once again, by popular demand. It’s not exhaustive, of course, and will be revised periodically in the coming weeks.
- Antarctica: A Guide to the Wildlife, 4th Edition
by Tony Soper, Dafila Scott (Illustrator)
by Christine Eckstrom (Editor), Frans Lanting (Photographer)
- Personal histories
- Good recipes
- Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7), Ralph Vaughan Williams
- Spanish phrase book
- The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, Vol. 2
- The General, with Buster Keaton
Jonathan and Jenelle moved into their new house on Saturday. They are very happy to be in a new home, except for the fact that they can’t find anything, and that they have to buy a lawn mower now.