Thankfully, the seemingly endless heat wave has indeed ended. For reasons that only a trained meteorologist could explain (and I'm beginning to suspect that we don't really have any of those doing weather forecasting here in Vermont), the temperature dropped from approximately one billion degrees with ninety percent humidity to sixty-five and raining overnight. And, I am appropriately grateful.
I had thought that maybe the temperature drop would mean that I could start to think again about replanting the groundhog-decimated areas of our garden. We put out a live trap for the fat, furry nuisance about a week ago, hoping to pull a catch and release manuever in time for the heat to let up and the kale to be replanted. However, last night we caught something else entirely.
I think it was just before midnight when Dan came in and said "Bird! We have a situation." (Yes, he really does call me that.) I hadn't been asleep all that long, but must have been sleeping relatively hard because I'm pretty sure that when I first woke up I didn't actually know who he was, let alone what he was talking about or why he was looking out the bedroom window with a flashlight. After talking me through my obvious confusion for a few moments, Dan notified me that indeed, we had caught something in the trap, but it wasn't a groundhog. It was a skunk. A big one.
Of course, the immediate problem with the situation was obvious. We had a large, angry skunk in a small cage just outside our bedroom window. It was midnight, pouring rain and we had no idea how to set this thing free without getting sprayed. Or worse. So, we did what any reasonable people would do. We stood in the window, looking out with flashlights and cracking a series of ridiculous jokes related to our situation. I can't remember anything that was actually said, I just know that it was super funny and that I was laughing hysterically. Also, a number of references were made to an incident with a possum in our chicken coop nearly a decade ago that Dan will possibly never live down.
After a few minutes, it became clear that perhaps our problem was a little different than what we thought it was. In fact, upon closer examination, it appeared that the trap had been sprung, the door to the trap was still closed, but that now it was empty. While we were busy laughing about our predicament and lack of clever ideas about how to solve it, the angry skunk seemed to have escaped somehow. Skunk Houdini. Dan donned a headlamp, grabbed his flashlight and cautiously crept out the backdoor into the rain to confirm our suspicions. Indeed, the trap was closed on both ends, the watermelon we used for bait had been eaten, but there was no longer a skunk inside. I'm not sure that relief is a strong enough word for the realization that it will not be necessary to liberate a sizeable and annoyed skunk in the rain at midnight. Especially since at some point we did have the sense to do a little searching on the interwebs for advice on the situation and found only this:
Q: What should I do if I catch a skunk?
A: First, find an old cloth, towel or sheet that can be used to cover the trap. Next, approach the trap cautiously, holding the trap covering in front of you. Make sure the covering extends to the ground while holding it--don't let the skunk see your feet coming as this may alarm the animal. When you're close enough to the trap, gently cover the trapped animal--trap and all.
Right. That really clears things up. Anyway, all's well that ends well. Except that I still have a groundhog problem and I think that we took a vote and decided not to leave the trap set at night anymore. As Dan said "There aren't really any nocturnal animals available in or around our backyard that I want to fool around with." Agreed.