January 8, 2012
Meeting the Wildlife of Their New Home
My parents immigrated to Canada in the mid-1950s; I was four years old and my brother was almost two. Coming from downtown Amsterdam to a small town in rural Ontario was quite a different world for them to behold. My parents loved nature and enjoyed taking road trips with us kids. We would pile into the car and head out into the country, picnic basket on board.
One Sunday, in late August, we jumped into the car and off we went. In the true spirit of a road trip, we followed the road to see where it would take us. We drove for hours to find that perfect spot for a picnic. We were all enjoying the scenery. The sun was shining, the trees were lush and tall, and the rocks towered alongside the road. We drove with the windows open to let the breeze in.
And then my father yelled out, “Oh, look at the beautiful little animal!” and pulled up to the side of the road. He jumped out, all the while yelling at us to follow him. He ran towards this little black-and-white animal. “Look,” he shouted enthusiastically. “Look! It is so beautiful.” We followed at a slower pace.
As my father neared this furry black-and-white creature, it too started to run. It lumbered away and my father continued to run towards it, yelling, “It is such a beautiful animal! I just want to touch it!”
Then, it happened. The little black creature with its white stripe stopped. And, just as my father bent down to pick it up, the little animal raised its tail and sprayed. It caught my father on the chest and in his face.
We watched as my father started to dance around, holding his face, as the skunk lumbered away.
My mother drove back that day. We had all the windows open, but the intense smell stuck to the car. We had to drive three hours to get back home.
As we pulled into the driveway of our home, the neighbours, who were out enjoying the warm evening, came running over.
Curious about our road trip, they innocently poked their heads through the open windows — and instantly jumped back.
Once my mother had explained what had happened, they offered to help my father get rid of the strong smell of skunk. Trying not to laugh out loud, they grinned widely as they poured tomato juice in a big metal tub in the backyard and helped my father in, clothes and all.
I truly cannot remember what happened after that. All I remember is that my father’s weekly road trip into the wild inspired me to love nature, and that whenever I smell the pungent odour of a skunk, I have to smile and think back to the day my father got sprayed by a cute fluffy black animal with a white stripe.