Monday, February 22, 2010

Skunk Sunday

    This weekend I made a quick trip up to Richmond. I had some appointments to keep, and Bro was coming home from UVA, supposedly to see his mom before he left for Brazil, but I secretly knew it was also about the time he had used up all his clean clothes and emptied his pantry. Sure enough, he arrived with a bus-load of dirty laundry and an empty stomach.  I cooked enough food and washed enough clothes to sustain most of the University for another month, then sent him back to Charlottesville clean and full.
     Early Sunday morning, I made the long drive back to South Carolina, anxious to leave the snow-covered ground of Virginia and head back to warmer climes.  It was a great time to travel, as traffic was light, and with four new tires on my car, I zipped down the interstate at a quick clip.        
     Not long after I exited I-95 in Petersburg to merge onto I-85, a familiar, pungent odor began to creep into the car.  I spottted the culprit, a dead skunk, lying on the side of the road, the obvious loser in the battle of man versus nature. I held a tissue over my nose as I roared down the interstate, anxious to escape the acrid odor. By the time I passed the Dinwiddie exit, the smell had  begun to dissipate. I had just lowered the tissue from my nose, when it hit again,  a new wave of noxious fumes rolling through the car.  I peered onto the side of the interstate, and there it was, another hapless victim, dead skunk number two.
      I went through my routine of tissue-to-nose, foot-to-gas-pedal as I tried to escape the cloud of fumes that were hovering around my car.  No sooner had the odor of skunk #2 dissipated, when yet again, that familiar scent wafted through my nostrils. I groaned "You've got to be kidding" as I spotted victim #3, that familiar black and white splat lying on the side of the road.
     The scent of skunk number three and not even faded when it hit again, and sure enough, there was the flattened culprit, that black and white fur the only clue left on the side of the highway as I passed skunk #4.
     By the time I reached the Virginia-North Carolina state line, I was up to skunk number nine. I was definitely spotting a trend, some influx of skunk migration that had obviously taken a deadly path. I called my husband in Richmond to report the breaking news.
     "I don't know what's going on, " I told him, "But I have just passed my ninth dead skunk. This is unbelievable.  Is this the skunk migration season? What in the world in going on? This stench is killing me."
    He was unaware of any breaking news regarding the murder of migrating skunks, but told me to keep him posted.  As I rolled through North Carolina, I added victims ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen to the fatality list. The tissue I was using to cover my violated nostrils was in shreds by the time I reached the South Carolina border and entered the Welcome Station. This was the site where the miracle occurred. I exited the interstate, exhausted from driving with one hand on the wheel and the other holding a tissue over my nose, and got out to stretch my legs, flex my cramped arms, and pick up another free map of the state. I noticed the moment I got out of my car that the air was clean, odorless, pure. I breathed deeply and smiled.
      As I pulled back onto the interstate, entering the Great State of South Carolina, the skunk mortality rate dropped to zero. Yes, zero. Miraculously, not a single skunk, dead or alive, did I spot for the rest of the trip.  The air I breathed was the sweet, fresh air of South Carolina, and I rolled down the windows, filled my lungs, and sailed on home with the fresh wind blowing through my car.
     Now, I am not making any judgement calls about North Carolina or Virginia, but I do want to point out that the Great State of South Carolina was the only state I crossed that Sunday morning that did not boast a single dead skunk or noxious odor. Not one. Zip. Nill. The sides of the interstate were victimless and the air I breathed was fresh and clean.
     I don't know what was the cause of Skunk Sunday, or why it only happened in Virginia and North Carolina.  Perhaps there was a Revival Meeting all those unfortunate critters were trying to attend on that fatal Sunday morning. Perhaps it was an early, misguided spring mating call that drove them to their deaths as they vainly attempted to cross the interstate in search of love.  I do know it turned what should have been a pleasant drive home into a battle of nostrils versus noxious fumes, with the fumes obviously winning the war. And I also know that it was only in the state of South Carolina that there was no road kill or pungent odors.
Skunk Sunday may have been just a strange phenomenom, it may have said nothing at all about those other two states, but I sure was glad to be back  breathing in the sweet fresh air of South Carolina.

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