Skunks, Mothballs, and Patio Stones


On Friday night July 10, around twilight, I came upon my cat staring out the back window, where there are interesting and sometimes scary things for him to see. Of course he has such a poker face that he could be watching a tarantula and not look afraid. I was hurrying to get dinner so I squinted out the window from a distance and then stopped and went over to his window chair to look out. ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! There were four black and white creatures chasing each other on the lawn outside my cat window, tumbling and chasing and jumping and attacking. They were skunks. When I moved into this house, there was a patio in the back yard attached to the house. It was old, ugly, full of cracks, and made of concrete. When I got a few dollars ahead, I hired a company to construct a floor on top of the  concrete with a pergola on the top. With cozy  outside furniture, this made a nice way to eat breakfast. Usually not lunch or dinner because it’s too hot where I live. But I didn’t think of one thing. The company couldn’t or didn’t choose to construct the floor of the patio all the way to the ground. There were openings where animals could get through to the ugly concrete rectangle and hide in there or have babies or do whatever they wished to do. Since I live at the side of a park, in which there is often ongoing development, animals’ habitats are disturbed and they run from them to the houses of we humans. I groaned when I saw the skunks because I knew it would be up to me to get rid of them. I had no doubt that they had been hiding out underneath the patio. In fact, I had surprised an animal when I was dashing out of my back door onto the patio and from there to the car when something streaked across the yard and ducked under the patio. My patio had been for the last few years the scene of a poison snake stretched across the door entrance, a bobcat, and more skunks which my neighbor had trapped in a cage between our two yards. I had seen bunnies run into the spaces too, but scarcely cared about the gentle little animals. Clearly I would have to get rid of the skunks myself, so that they couldn’t get under the floor of the patio and onto the wretched piece of concrete.  I was relieved to be able to pull the blinds down on the skunk scene and go and watch Blue Bloods with Tom Selleck at 9:00 pm. which I have been catching all summer. The next day I started the project in searing heat.

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