Wild bergamot’s turpentiney scent hung heavy in the thick air.
nor could I do anything with the pair of indigo buntings who sidestepped up the Joe-Pye weed stems, spitting their alarm calls at me. Down near the end of the road, where it meets blacktop, a yellow-billed cuckoo called and landed just overhead. It dropped its bright rufous primaries, hiked its tail, and a male cuckoo swooped in and answered the invitation with a quick copulatory flurry of wings. Well! Knowing how brief the nesting cycle of cuckoos is—only 17 days from egg-laying to fledging of the chicks—a mid-July mating didn’t seem so strange. But it was a delightful surprise. My late momma Ida throws cuckoos and thrashers at me. I smiled and nodded in acknowledgement. Message received!
This is the best I could do with my cellphone on my second try at skunks. I was breathtakingly close to the black skunk, so close that when he disappeared into vegetation just below the bank I was sitting on, I quietly arose and trotted away. I did NOT want that skunk to pop out of the tangle right at my feet!
Foraging must have been good, for the three barely looked up, and they came so close I could hear them snorting and chewing beetle grubs and whatever else they were digging out. One got a seed hull or bug down his windpipe, and the little animal began wheezing, and I laughed as I found myself instinctively wanting to run to it to cover its nostrils like I do for Chet Baker when he gets the wheezles. That gesture might not be understood or appreciated, and I’d likely come out of my mission of mercy howling in agony and smelling of burnt tires and garlic. I have been sprayed by a skunk once, been really near Chet when he got sprayed once, and those two instances are quite enough. I never smell skunk perfume without marveling that such a beautiful little creature can produce such a powerful odor. How in the world do they even do it? How can they concentrate chemical compounds in their little glands that can be smelled for miles and miles?? Surely this is one of the great wonders of the world.