Our cats like it here. They can settle into open, sunny windows like pencils into grooves and watch the cardinals on the bird feeders; they can lounge belly-up on the back porch and listen to voles rustling underground; they can make friends and invite them home for snacks. And it's this last which is worrying me.
TTD and I had just turned out the light on Thursday night when we heard a resounding crash from the kitchen. "Uh oh," we thought. "The cats have succeeded in knocking the hamster cage off its perch, or they have dragged fifty pounds of cat food from under the sink, displacing pots and pans as they go, or they have decided to rearrange the furniture." TTD fulfilled his husbandly duty by heading downstairs in his underwear to check out the scene, and a moment later I heard him call, very softly, "Babe? I need you down here."
I went down (you have to go slowly down our back stairs, as they are slightly steeper and more dangerous than the Hilary Step atop Everest: we should have belay lines) and found TTD standing in the kitchen doorway, holding a broom and staring across the kitchen. "Look," he said in a whisper.
I looked. Both cats were lying, totally relaxed, bellies a-flop, atop the kitchen table. Beneath them, on the floor, also totally relaxed with belly a-flop, lay a baby skunk. A real, right, and proper skunk, black with white stripes and a bushy tail, obviously blissfully at home.
I froze. What if it sprayed? We'd have to move out, literally, and get some disaster-restoration firm to detoxify the house. What if, like a racoon and a skunk captured recently in the neighboring town, it was rabid? What if it decided to charge us? DO skunks charge? And why had our cats invited it in to snack on the cat food?
And snack it did. As TTD and I watched, motionless (I never did establish exactly what TTD hoped to accomplish with the broom), the skunk waddled over to the cat food, crunched up a whole bowl full, then headed for the kitchen door, which was closed. Then he (she?) headed for the back door, which was also closed. He seemed to know exactly where the food and the exits were, and this, combined with the cats' total nonchalance, made us think he'd been visiting several times before. Finally he lay down beneath the TV in the playroom for a few minutes, then got up and let himself out the playroom door into the shed, a door which Yellow, our smartest cat, often shoves open at night if we forget to lock it. TTD and I collapsed in a sort of hysterical fit of relief, and the cats just lay there, staring at us.
I am all for wildlife, and I enjoy the coyotes calling in our woods, the crickets and frogs going at it in the summer evenings, the woodchuck munching the asparagus in the garden. But I draw the line at skunks helping themselves to midnight snacks in our kitchen. I really do.
All is well, however, because tomorrow we go pick up the Mini, and I am like a little kid on the night before Christmas. Santa brought me a car! Santa brought me a car! Oh boy oh boy oh boy! (Note to self: put roof up on car at night, so skunks do not go joyriding).