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Night Animals by Day
There is often strong Eau de Skunk in the cool foggy morning. Jollyville was once a little hamlet about a mile from here, fifteen miles out of Austin on the road to Lampasas. Now it's just the name of an area, and the Austin city limits come right out to our doorsteps. Anyway, I read that Jollyville is the skunk capital of Texas, or maybe the US or even the world. We have more skunks per square mile than just about anyone.
I sometimes see one sauntering out to the vegetable garden at dusk. Skunks are so cute. They have just two faults. They spray your dog, and they can be rabid. My friend Steve is a falconer. He went out with his bird one day, and he was doing something in the bushes when he noticed a gnawing pain in his left hand. He looked down and saw that an agitated skunk was biting him.
He didn't even bother trying to catch the animal for testing. He just got the shots. I like skunks, but if I saw one in broad daylight, I'd be afraid.
The night animals have to be somewhere during the day, though. Most of the time I suppose they hide down in the ravine, or in the tops of the big trees between Norma's and our yards. But sometimes we find them holed up closer than we expect, like the ringtail in the pumphouse.
A skunk camped out in the barbeque pit for a few days once. I read on the Internet that I should just wait a bit. They said he would move on, and he did.
Once Craig left a gutter pipe under the deck for a couple of weeks. When he got back to it he pulled it out and tilted it up to the sky and looked to see if it was clear and whoooops!!!! Out slid a possum! Hard to say who was more surprised by that sudden tete-a-tete.
In early fall I see cottontail rabbits. Of course, they are neither nocturnal nor diurnal. They are - here's a wonderful word - crepuscular, which means they are active at dawn and dusk.
We have what Craig says is a cotton rat. It is brown, and I have seen it in the day. If it is indeed a hispid cotton rat, this is a truly diurnal animal, and not such a bad one, I guess. My fear is that it is actually a brown Norway rat. They are nocturnal. In his book on rats, Robert Sullivan says that if you see a (Norwegian) rat, you have ten, unless you see one in the day, in which case you have an unthinkable number. Yikes.
There still are plenty of armadillos. Poor things, they are slow and antiquated. Walking Wily in the early darkness, I sometimes hear a world of furious scrabbling in the road. We are first alarmed, then curious, because the sound advances so slowly. Sure enough, an armadillo is toiling his way toward the shelter of the hillside as the sun comes up. Too bad they tend to finish up getting pancaked.
Now Blooming: Joseph's Coat.
Continue: Murder in the Bamboo Forest
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The Year of the
The Year of the Night Animals