Two days ago during a brief burst of lunchtime sunshine, I was high in an apple tree pruning to my heart’s content when the scent of skunk wafted through the orchard. Vicki was also outside and remarked, “I really don’t mind the smell of skunk? Do you?” I nodded in agreement before noticing Sheba, our beloved resident terrier mutt, tear across the yard like a bat out of hell.
Vicki’s comment about Eau de Skunk was just about to be put to a major test as Sheba had taken a direct hit from a skunk from close range. Her coat had an actual substance on it, and the smell was so potent that when I picked her up my eyes watered.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to pick her up before she shared the experience with all of us. The doors of house and office had been open when the skunk sprayed. It was a balmy 35 degrees and that felt warm enough for some fresh air. This open door meant Sheba tore across the yard straight into the house and office then raced through every room rubbing herself on every last rug.
A number of vinegar baths later, Sheba was free from the worst of the spray but not so much the house and office. I think we’ll all be smelling skunk in here for quite awhile.
After accepting that we’d all smell of skunk for the indefinite future, I spent the next several days thinking about skunk medicine. This was partly prompted by one of you suggesting I try and see the spray job as “good luck” and partly because the animals continue to be the professors of this Green Hope Farm school without walls.
Skunk is the Algonquin word for this North American native and one of the few Algonquin words in the common vernacular. This time of year female skunks are getting set to move from their winter dens where they semi hibernate to their birthing dens. The male skunks are getting ready to take a long walkabout after they have done their business with the ladies.
This time of year there is often a bit of a skunk smell on the wind. This is because during mating season, female skunks are happy to give ardent suitors a blast of their perfume to get the fellows to back off until they are good and ready.
Skunks sometimes scurry across our gardens at dawn, but mostly they navigate the gardens with a regal insouciance. No creature with an ounce of sense ( besides sweet Sheba) would tangle with a skunk. And their insouciance suggests they know this to be true.
Skunk medicine is not only the self esteem of knowing one can handle just about any threat, but it’s a deeper self knowledge. Skunks know the truth and the truth is they are bad asses- quite literally as their rears are where their spray glands are.
As I embrace skunk medicine, I will seek to embrace what I truly know to be true about myself. I will honor my genuine gifts and forgive my failings. I will try to carry myself with confidence, even insouciance. I will refrain from spraying unless I have stamped my feet like skunks do to give fair warning. But I will spray to protect what needs to be protected if necessary. Mostly I will remember that knowing who I am carries its own power.