Something stinks

Pause for a minute and take stock: we’re 14 months into a global pandemic. While my birth country, the US, has decided the pandemic is largely over, my current home, Canada, has taken a more cautious approach: here in Ontario we are under “stay at home” orders. After weeks of socializing almost exclusively with our immediate family, we have all become slightly feral. The stay at home orders end on June 2, and while many are rejoicing at the small freedoms we will begin to re-experience, teachers, students and parents are still biting our nails. In its infinite wisdom, the provincial government has neglected to decide if the re-opening of the province also means the re-opening of schools. They are, apparently, thinking about it. Nevermind that the re-opening is happening on Thursday. They will come to a decision when they are good and ready.

At any rate, it’s not like they can make this school year any more convoluted than it already has been. Not only have we been teaching in hybrid “quadmesters” (the word “quarters” just doesn’t capture the essence of this school year – and some schools have “octomesters”), but also no two quadmesters have unfolded in the same way: we’ve had fully hybrid, hybrid until the last month, fully virtual…. Quad 4 has been entirely virtual up until now, but with three weeks left in the year we may be randomly shifted back to in-person hybrid. Or maybe not. No one knows. It’s a mystery.

All of this may explain Saturday morning. I was sitting in the kitchen playing a word game when something outside caught my eye. There, just beyond the sliding glass door, a skunk was destroying my hostas.

I. was. livid.

I didn’t even pause. I jumped up, ran to the door, and flung it open. I tore onto the back porch, clad in my fuzzy pink bathrobe and old sneakers, unwashed, hair unkempt, and cried out with all the fury of a teacher nearly at the end of a school year, nearly at the end of a pandemic, nearly at the end of her rope: “DON’T YOU DARE!” I shook my fist. “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!”

The shocked skunk looked up from its meal.


She stared at me. I stared at her. I gradually began to realize that my actions might have been, well, rash. There I stood, a slightly crazed, decidedly disheveled, middle-aged school teacher in a pink bathrobe yelling across the lawn at a rodent on a Saturday morning. Still, we stared. Then she turned around.

Well, let me tell you, I took one look at that skunk’s butt and ran back inside. Behind the safety of the sliding glass door, I seethed. Our cat, Hera, joined me. Together, we glared.

The skunk, clearly worried that the humans of *this* house might be rabid, delicately picked her way out of the yard and left.

The lesson? Do not mess with a tired teacher at the end of an exhausting school year during a global pandemic. The teacher will win.

a trail of half-eaten hostas

12 thoughts on “Something stinks

  1. Amanda, oh, my! This is priceless. Only in the well-described circumstances would someone confront a skunk. This line is so satisfying: “The skunk, clearly worried that the humans of *this* house might be rabid delicately picked her way out of the yard and left.” Yes, you still have your teacher super powers even in this situation! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like perfectly normal behavior to me given the circumstances. 😉 I doubt I’d be smart enough to retreat under the same circumstances. And I do wish Canada would open. I dress as m of camping in Banff. And I’m so sorry you have three more weeks of this awful year remaining. Set a trap for that skunk. Nobody gets by w/ messing w/ the hostas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I adore this beautifully written post. You’ve described the scene so vividly. Even while laughing as I imagined your crazed advance, I was worried about the potential consequences. I’m so glad you retreated, and lived to tell the tail…ahem… tale. Your piece is also a fabulous mentor for punctuation and varied sentence length. Hang in there! The end (ha!) is in sight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! That skunk really went to town on the hostas! I thought there might be a different ending. So glad you won. It’s so bizarre how different things are in the US vs. Canada. Also, it must be nerve wracking to not know what will happen. All of the uncertainty of the last year has been so hard. Summer is coming!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love! I read this to Colin and he just started laughing bc I used the same sentence and tone when I caught the squirrels digging up out planters. I think I was scolding them for a full minute. Colin said, “People are going to wonder if you are ok if you keep that up.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t know why the line wouldn’t copy. It was this:
      There I stood, a slightly crazed, decidedly disheveled middle-aged school teacher in a pink bathrobe yelling across the lawn at a rodent on a Saturday morning. Still, we stared. Then she turned around.


  6. What a storyteller you are, Amanda! I see you in your pink bathrobe giving that skunk a good talking to – like good medicine, this story goes down smoothly and lightens my mood. I got a good laugh in here! Thank you!


  7. I didn’t know skunks ate hostas! Of course this would happen on a year like this. I could picture you (even though I don’t know you)…maybe that’s because I would have done the same thing!


  8. Oh, what a perfect story–slightly feral, indeed! I laughed out loud reading this slice. It’s the perfect metaphor for life in this moment. Way to go, you, for taking a stand in a moment when it really counted.


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