Skunks & Vacation

Joe and I just returned from two weeks away: one week in Hawaii with the family (heaven, except for the tropical cold I brought back), and one week at the first annual Wine Beserkers tasting event in Telluride, CO. I have plenty of great photos to post from our trips, including us skiing the Big Island's volcano (yes, you can seriously do that). I'll put them up soon. But first, let's talk about our homecoming yesterday.

One of my aims when moving back to Boonville and starting this blog was to share a little of the experience of moving back to the country and back into the house I grew up in. After spending your childhood in a small, rural area like ours, then leaving for college, towns with banks and chain coffee shops (imagine that!), and work in an office, it's definitely an adjustment to come back to a town of 700 people (on a good day). Things that I wouldn't have thought twice about as a kid give me pause now. It's a very different experience. One of these things I'm having a difficult time adjusting to is the resident wildlife, particularly those things that like to harass our dogs and try and live under our house.

We arrived home yesterday, worked a bit, and diligently starting unpacking, doing laundry, and the like. Just as we were relaxing with a nice glass of wine, about 10:30 last night, my nose starts to detect that offensive odor that I know too well: skunk spray. I assumed that one of our dogs, who were outside, were just sprayed by a skunk. It happens several times a year, without fail. Our tasting room Lab, Ozzie, never seems to learn.

I called in the dogs, but oddly enough they didn't smell, nor did the outside of the house much. I shrugged it off, and sat back down. As we watched some TV the next hour, the odor became worse and worse -- to the point where the inside of my nostrils burned. Again, I assumed that a skunk had sprayed outside somewhere, but that it would be fine in a bit. I attempted to go to bed, but the inside of our house reeked with that oily, disgusting smell. That's when I persuaded my husband (one of the many good point of having a guy around) to go investigate. Unfortunately, he only confirmed that it was much worse inside than out. Great!

Around here this situation likely means one thing: in our two-week absence a skunk had crawled underneath our house and was now spraying in fear as we moved around up top, making everything inside reek. I did the sensible thing and moved into the cottage next door for the night. Yes, my back hurts and I woke up with a dog on my pillow, but at least I could breathe.

This morning, when it was light enough to see, we went investigating. That means actually opening up the access to underneath the house, sticking my head through, and shining a flashlight around. Yes, it terrified me that I was going to be sprayed in the face or attacked by some overwrought skunk. It's dark and scary under there (and full of cobwebs and mouse poison). As I'm opening the access, waiting for something to spray or jump out at me, I was wishing I was back in my duplex rental in Santa Rosa, where the worst thing I had to worry about under the house was a stray cat who wandered through every once in a while.

As I stuck my head under there .... AHHHHH!!! Actually, that was only the sound in my head. There was nothing under the house, thankfully. As we finally figured out, a skunk had sprayed right into one corner of our house, where all the vents go underneath the floor. The spray was sucked in under the house while it also leaked through a cracked window which holds our wine cellar air conditioning. It permeated the entire inside of the house instead of just drifting away in to the wind.

Welcome home from vacation!


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