Jul 5 2010

Scent of Skunk

Melissa Crytzer Fry

Okay. So the image below doesn’t appear to “match” my headline.  But really … it does have relevance. This is the setting for my experience this morning. Because, let’s be honest: who wants to get close enough to photograph a skunk? Not me.

Jogging trails/view from our mountaintop. Deep green in background is San Pedro River. Click to enlarge.

I was jogging along at 5:30 a.m., quite happy that the air was actually cool. It was the first time in weeks, since Arizona’s Monsoon Season began, that it didn’t feel like the air was draped with sticky cotton candy. (Yes, after nearly 12 years, I’ve forgotten what it was like growing up in Pennsylvania, where summertime humidity is the norm… where towels never dry and carpet is damp).

So I’m jogging along, taking deep breaths of the crisp air. Then it hit me. Hard. A big ol’ gulp of skunk. Woo wee. I am not exaggerating when I say that when I licked my lips, I tasted the bitterness of skunk. Over and over.

And the odd thing is that it didn’t matter where I was along the 5-mile radius jog I take every morning … it seemed to permeate the air. Stronger in some areas than others, but always present. When I neared the train trestle, the smell was so strong that I started to look over my shoulder, sure that the stinky fellow was going to show up.

I scanned the dirt for tiny skunk paw prints. Scanned for the infamous black and white. Because, to be honest, if I were ever to be sprayed by a skunk, I’m pretty sure I’d toss my cookies over and over. I was growing a bit nervous.

The good news is that I never did see the stinky mammal. As cute as they can be (yes, I even think skunks are cute), I guess they are just doing what nature has hardwired them to do: defend when threatened. We humans are just as defensive, I guess. We just have different mechanisms.

For Writers:

Have you ever had close contact with a skunk? Ever think of using one in your novel – as a get-even tool against your antagonist, a symbol, or even a pet? How would you describe the foul mist of a skunk? To me it’s kind of antiseptic and very gag-inspiring. How do you describe a smell that is unique only to itself?

2 Responses to “Scent of Skunk”

  • avatar K Says:

    Like a snakes warning a skunks smell is a polite way of saying “watch out I’m a badass”! If humans observed and genuinely learned from our surroundings we would definitely be more evolved. Being more symbiotic with our environment is my lifetime goal. The description of a skunk smell for me is- a metallic, oily, musky scent. Yes, our dogs have been sprayed and we dipped them in tomato juice as recommended. This makes the smell tolerable but facts are only time will help the spray of a skunk!


  • avatar Melissa Says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on skunks and drawing the parallel to our surroundings. I agree that getting in touch with our environment can really help us evolve. I hope I never have to take that tomato bath that you mention.


Leave a Comment