Dusk lingered, though the sun had slipped below the horizon some time ago. The din of crickets and cicadas, and the shuuushk of Junebugs hitting the lanterns outside provided a familiar sound: a symphony of summer on the ranch.
It was the kind of night that begs you to be outside and makes you feel alive, deep in your veins.
I was so enamored with the evening, I decided to go for a walk. I wanted to meditate with the last half-hour of the fading light, so I threw on some muck boots with my sundress. Quite the ensemble. 💁🏼♀️ I left the dogs at home so they wouldn’t distract me.
I was on the home-stretch, about fifteen minutes from my house, really enjoying myself. I felt so at peace, so Zen… when I noticed my cat trotting down the path. Even better! Cats can be so standoffish —he had never joined me on a walk before. I felt honored!
It was almost completely dark. I continued walking toward him, crouching low, making idiotic meowing noises (cat owners, you get it).
Suddenly, a feather of doubt flitted through my chest. Wait I sec, dummy…the cat has never joined you on a walk before. Why would he suddenly decide to come find you…?
We were about 8 feet apart when I realized nope, it was not my cat.
I was frozen in my crouched-low position, right arm outstretched. The last little meow got stuck in my throat and every Zen vibe vacated my body.
I was eye-level with a mother fudging skunk. His tail was arched, ready to spray.
This had turned into quite the meditation. “Holyshit-holyshit-holyshit” became my mantra. We were making serious eye contact.
Breathe in, breathe out. What does om mean again??
Holyshit-holyshit-holyshit turned into whatdoIdo-whatdoIdo-whatdoIdo?
Is it going to chase me? Do skunks travel in packs? Are there more following it? Should I run? What if it bites me? WHAT IF I GET SPRAYED? If I get caught out here, in the pitch dark, with a family of rabid skunks at my heels, I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL SELL EVERY COW ON THIS RANCH.
What little light was left was vanishing by the second.
It was fight or flight mode, and I decided flight was the best option here.
I inched backwards. Skunk inched forwards.
I took several really big, really fast steps backward. The skunk advanced. We were doing a cha-cha dance from hell. I’m not Catholic but I threw in a few Hail Mary’s for dramatic effect.
As if in slow-motion, it rotated its body – a graceful spin in our dramatic dance sequence. I held my breath, clamped my eyes shut, and prepared for the deluge. I said goodbye to the beloved sundress that I would never wear again. I watched my life flash before my eyes. I said goodbye to my children I would never know…
An eternity passed (well, tbh, it was probably only a few milliseconds). I hadn’t gotten sprayed, bitten, or mauled. I cracked open my left eye. He was trotting away in the other direction. Cue the hallelujah chorus!
Even with the sundress and muck boots, I’m certain I clocked my fastest quarter-mile sprint back up the my house.
note to self: don’t go walking in the wilderness alone at night.