At 906 Lewisburg Road on the outskirts of Corvallis is an excellent house. I should know. We built it. A buddy of mine at the School of Ministry was asking me about it today and I told him the story of how we "remodeled" the existing house to get what you see when you drive by it. It's a wonderful house full of good memories. It's got a huge old dairy barn where we put a basketball hoop up in the second-floor hay loft. We lived in the barn for a while during our "remodel" project and I'll never forget the lingering odor in the barn. It wasn't overpowering, but just enough to have a constant ripeness in the air. Kind of like burnt toast is the best I can describe it. I figured it was just a barn smell. It wasn't until a beautiful, sunny summer day when we were living in the house that I put two and two together.
Madeline was a toddler and was out in the back yard toddling around when she spied a "kitty." She went to go pet it and the "kitty" turned around, lifted its tail and fired a wretched cloud of stink. It was a skunk. Well, it was on after that between me and that dastardly skunk. No skunk is going to spray my baby and get away with it. I talked with a friend of mine who knew a thing or two about the skunk species and how to take care of any problem stinky invaders. He lent me a live trap -- basically a small cage where I could trap the skunk -- and told me skunks like barbecue. Turns out, from personal experience I can now say that skunks like barbecue pork best, and real crispy at that. Anyway, I did some research on skunks and was alarmed to learn that the critters nest in the same place every year. In other words, they were coming back to nest under our barn. Great. I set the live trap on a corner of the barn one night with a little bit of barbecue in it and waited to see what would happen.
The next morning, bingo. Skunk city. Of course, this posed a "disposal" problem. Here's how I solved it. I went out with a shovel and about 20 yards or so from the cage where the skunk awaited its final solution I dug a hole. Then with a .22 rifle I sent the skunk to the eternal stink in the sky. Upon expiration, however, the skunk "released" its inner stink in its entirety, an odor that arose from the very depths of its bowels that haunts me to this day. I ran to the cage, picked it up, ran to the hole, dropped the skunk in it, threw the dirt on it, ran to the back deck, stripped to my underoos and then ran for the shower. Julie disposed of my rotten clothes in the washing machine and after sudsing up, my clothes and I were ready for business again.
Here's the kicker, though. Little did I know at the time I would have to repeat that dastardly business 15 MORE TIMES!!!! Yes, that's right. For those keeping score at home, that's 16 skunks. Under my barn. Now buried in my back yard. Or my ex-back yard. You can't imagine the discouragement I felt when I awoke in the morning and looked out my bedroom window on those gorgeous spring and summer days, past the plum trees to the corner of the barn ... to see this black "kitty" with a yellowish white stripe down its back trying to paw its way out of a cage. Of course, we can have sympathy for the skunks who paid the ultimate price for their stink and for that particular village idiot who made the fatal error of laying some stench on my precious Madeline.
The bigger question I have, though, is of a deeper, theological nature. It's way profound even and not for those who are shallow, swimming on the mere surface of deep thinkingness. Lord, it goes, why skunks?