Have-A-Heart

My husband is a city boy. I’m a country girl. Jim lives here because he loves me, and I let him because, well, I’m selfish.

When we moved here, the police Chief said, “Welcome to Mason. Hope you like gunfire.” Jim’s ears pricked up. He loves guns. He only shoots targets, though.

Mostly.

Last year, for the first time, Jim helped me plant the vegetable garden. So when the woodchuck ate everything except the squash, Jim took it personally. Every morning, he tip-toed into the garage and peeked through the windows, hoping to catch the woodchuck in the act and introduce it to his Walther P22 semi-automatic.

It wasn’t long before he got his wish. I was upstairs when I heard the BOOM.

I held my breath, picturing the woodchuck dead and our lettuce growing big enough to eat. Just as I started to relax, there was a BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! and I pictured tender-hearted Jim making darn sure that poor little woodchuck didn’t suffer a prolonged and agonizing death.

But when I came downstairs and peeked into the yard, there was no woodchuck. There was, however, a red-faced Jim, emptying the second clip down the woodchuck hole.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

He followed up with two smoke bombs from the Hollis flea market. Black fog hung in the air around him as he shoveled dirt into the hole and stomped it flat. He dropped a few bricks and part of a landscape timber on top of the grave for good measure, then returned triumphant to the house.

I cooked him a hero’s breakfast.

When we went out to check his handiwork, the bricks were pushed aside, the hole was newly excavated, and the woodchuck was nowhere to be seen. There was no sign of blood, and we could only assume the chuck had escaped unharmed.

On the following morning, the woodchuck ate the squash.

Undaunted, Jim advanced to plan B: the Have-a-Heart trap. He loaded it with carrots, planning to capture the woodchuck and shoot it point blank. I did mention that woodchucks weren’t the only animal that might like carrots, but he was determined, so I backed off.

My only stipulation, “You catch it, you’re responsible for it.”

The following morning, Jim skulked into the kitchen, and after a suitable period of staring at his feet, he asked, “Do we like skunks?”

“Yes, we love skunks.” I set out coffee. “They eat grubs.”

“Oh.”

“Why the sudden interest in skunks?” Please no.

He got one of those excited little boy looks. “We caught the fluffiest skunk I’ve ever seen!”

“What’s this we shit?” I started laughing. “You have to let it out. Don’t look at me. I have a client on the way.”

I’m a massage therapist, and smelling like a skunk is not good for business.

Jim covered himself with garbage bags, and, looking like a cross between the Michelin Man and a bag lady, he headed into the yard. I followed. We don’t get a lot of excitement in Mason, and I wondered if I ought to call the neighbors and toss a few hot dogs on the grill.

The skunk was a juvenile female, almost all white, and as Jim said, extraordinarily fluffy. It looked like a Disney cartoon character – completely adorable.

I went back in the house and watched out the window.

Jim snuck up to the trap. I could tell he was shaking from twenty feet away without my glasses. He lifted the door, propped it open with a stick, and stepped back, heaving a sigh of relief. Then he hotfooted it back to the house and plastered his nose against the window.

“It’s not coming out.”

“That’s okay. I’m sure it will.”

Jim stayed glued to the window, eyes on the trap. “What if it doesn’t come out?”

“That would be too bad. It’s gonna be ninety degrees, and the poor thing will roast in the sun. It’s probably not sure what to do without its family.”

Jim looked awfully guilty. “What do they eat?”

I scrambled an egg and filled a dish with water.

Jim delivered the egg and water. But rather than coming back in the house, he stayed by the cage, talking and cooing and encouraging the little skunk. I watched him through the window and listened. “It’s okay, little girl. We’re not gonna hurt you.” He pushed the water dish closer to her nose.

It was a very tolerant little skunk, but there is a limit. A moment later Jim burst into the kitchen. “It sprayed me!  It sprayed me! Can you believe it sprayed me?”

My nose believed it. The stink was so bad I could hardly breathe, and I had a massage client due in an hour. I probably wasn’t the most supportive wife in the world at that moment. All I could do was giggle and say, “Get the hell out of here.”

He didn’t get out. It must have been the adrenalin that made him streak through every room in the house. It was like a rite of passage, his first encounter with the wild – a city boy confronting nature and emerging victorious, with no wounds beyond his sinuses.

Google came to our rescue with a recipe for de-skunking, which I mixed up and poured over him while he scrubbed at his arm and torso. It worked a treat, and before long Jim smelled better than before the skunking.

The same could not be said for the house.

Jim wasted no time re-setting the trap, hoping this time to catch that woodchuck. But I suspect if he does, he’ll feed it and let it go. He was raised on Disney, and killing is not in his nature.

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12 thoughts on “Have-A-Heart

  1. HAHA, this was so simply and lovingly told. Snorts and giggles in every sentence. 😛 Once there was a skunk at my parents’ back door (this was before I was born) and my mom insisted it was a cat. She tried to let it in. My dad had to intervene. At the last minute. 😛

    • LOL, JLiz!

      When I was a kid, we had a pet raccoon. We were the only ones stupid enough to take her when the people who raised her started getting bitten. She got loose, of course, and let herself into our neighbor’s house.

      “She’s so cute! We’re feeding her Nachos in the living room.”

      “Make a trail of Nachos out the door.”

      She WAS cute. I still have the scars.

  2. Thank you so much, Jet. Yes, there are lots of guns here, but it’s quiet most of the time. Lately we don’t even hear the coyotes. The fish & game folks tell us they’ve moved out because the mountain lions have moved in. I think I’d rather have the coyotes. 🙂

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