Monday, July 21, 2014

The rural life: Curiouser and curiouser

From page A4 | November 11, 2013 |

It was so odd. It happened about a week ago, during my daily walk. I paused at the top of a hill and watched, dumbfounded, as a skunk hurried by me on the left side of the road, passing me just as a car would. Alert and wily as any wild creature, the skunk had to have seen or smelled me there on the road. Yet he marched right on by without varying his pace or even glancing in my direction.

I felt an eerie déjà vu, not for something from my own past, but for something I remembered from a children’s story. The way that skunk hustled by me was exactly the way the White Rabbit hustled past Alice just before they both tumbled down the hole into Wonderland (in Lewis Carroll’s classic 1865 novel). The skunk had no waistcoat or pocket watch, but he was hurrying along in the same single-minded way, sticking to the road as if he knew it was the quickest route from where he’d been to where he was going.

I could almost imagine him muttering to himself (“Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I shall be late!”) and reaching for his watch.

Mesmerized, I stared after him as long as I could, until he crested the next rise and dipped out of sight. Then I hurried on to the top of the rise myself in an attempt to get another glimpse, wondering if he would stick to the road long enough for me to do so.

He did. At the top of the rise, I spotted him halfway up the next hill, still on his side of the road, still hurrying. For no good reason, I began to imagine him as a her, anxious to reach her burrow and see what mischief the little ones had gotten into in her absence. The skunk had become Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, subject of the Beatrix Potter children’s book of the same name, published in 1905. The vision included an apron and striped petticoat, a little white cap, and the skunk’s nose “sniffle, sniffle, snuffling” as she rushed up the road.

At this point, I should clarify that I had ingested nothing before my walk that afternoon other than my usual pick-me-up cup of coffee. These curious notions entered my mind for no reason other than the skunk’s odd behavior. (And, I might add, because conjuring them up was fun.)

I race-walked to the top of the next rise, winding myself, but the skunk was nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t tell if he’d darted off the road and into burrow or culvert, or was now just so far ahead that I could no longer catch sight of him.

Deflated, I continued on for my usual distance, then turned back for home. Daylight was fading, and I was pondering how I would share this bizarre skunk encounter in my next column, when something brought me up short.

It was diluted skunk-smell, the sort that’s not at all offensive, and in fact reminds me of the aroma of boutique coffee beans. (Go figure.) I was catapulted into a third children’s book, “The Wind in the Willows,” Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 classic. I became Mole, only instead of catching a whiff of my old underground burrow, as he does, I was sniffing evidence that perhaps my skunk friend had left the road somewhere near this spot and found shelter.

For a moment, I wished I could indeed be like Mole, and follow my nose to find what I was scenting. Then I snapped to, realizing that stunt — assuming it were possible — would likely only result in my getting skunk-sprayed. (But not necessarily bitten. Contrary to popular belief, not all skunks appearing in the daytime are rabid. Some are just searching for food. Often to feed offspring.)

With that thought, I’m back in Beatrix Potter-land, imagining the skunk as a diligent, nurturing mother-creature. Perhaps I’ll see one of her babies someday.

I’m anthropomorphizing, I know. So sue me.

Jennifer Forsberg Meyer, a biweekly columnist with the Mountain Democrat, favored skunks less when her dogs kept getting sprayed. How about you? Leave a comment online, or contact her at



Jennifer Forsberg Meyer

Jennifer Forsberg Meyer is an award-winning journalist and author with three published books to her credit. Currently she is a senior editor with Horse & Rider magazine. Jennifer lives in rural Latrobe with her husband, Hank; their daughter, Sophie Elene; and the family’s assorted animals.


IRS unveils Taxpayer Bill of Rights

By News Release | From Page: B1

Highway 50 collision fatal

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

Stay connected through sheriff

By El Dorado County Sheriff's Office | From Page: B1

EDH community unites to patch up historic barn

By Mike Roberts | From Page: A1 | Gallery

P’ville hires Camino superintendent

By News Release | From Page: B1

Bird tests positive for West Nile

By Ross Branch | From Page: A1

Heard over the back fence: Public swim times announced

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

County gets partial refund on promotional event

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A3

Jeepers expo Wednesday in Georgetown

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A3

Help SWR with squirrel babies

By Sierra Wildlife Rescue | From Page: A9



The rural life: Save the day: Neuter and spay

By Jennifer Forsberg Meyer | From Page: A4

Different place, different priorities

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

California rambling: Giving cities a pass

By John Poimiroo | From Page: A4 | Gallery



Ready for Hillary?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments


By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Diamond Springs Firefighters Union is corrupt

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

100+ years and thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

A thank you note

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Prada belongs in Berkeley

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



Under the Scoreboard: July 20, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Schedule: July 21-26

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Becker slips by in wild KWS finish

By Gary Thomas | From Page: A6

Sports Scene: July 20, 2014

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6

Roundup: July 20, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Season over for Post 119

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Valley View Sports Park

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Sophia Barden wins strut title

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A7



How to safely help a horse

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Railroad Museum offers a fun ‘History Happy Hour’

By California State Railroad Museum | From Page: B4

As we were: Money for home repairs

By Ken Deibert | From Page: B4

Volunteer kitchen help needed in EDH

By Health and Human Services Agency | From Page: B10

Marshall Medical Center to host day of fitness and fun

By Marshall Medical | From Page: B10

Kids parade for free admission to the fair

By Amador County Fair | From Page: B10



Crime Log: July 6-8

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Betty Ellene Hock

By Contributor | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Douglas J. Beam

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Arthur J. Funston

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Jerry Grant Young Jr.

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Kathryn Noreen Nolan

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate



TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

American Profile Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Monday, July 21, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8