I was just standing there, minding my own—
Well, not standing, but I was minding my own business.
A cool front had migrated, meandered, and oozed out of the northern plains overnight, dropping the morning temperature down to 70 or so, with a humidity to match. I needed to walk, so I got up at 0530 and set off (after petting, watering, giving ice to, petting, tidying up after, and petting Athena T. Cat.) The birds were just starting their serenade, and no cars moved. I took a longer route through the area around RedQuarters, seeing what houses were for sale, which had sold, if there were any new flowers, how the house with the Cottage! Garden!!!* was doing, and so on.
Some scattered clouds added a bit of color to the dawn, but not too much. I listened to some brisk walking-pace music and trotted my rounds, working up a bit of a moisture layer. A few dogs barked, and the doves, western kingbirds (aka “intersection flycatchers”) and Mississippi kites were up and about. Two male kites were sparring and tail-chasing, and circled me a few times as I strode up the street. I didn’t smell anyone drying laundry, but several people had smokers going. One person had used far too much lighter fluid to get his/her/its fire started. I could smell it for the entire block.
A few cats moved, or just sat and observed the world rotating around them.
I turned onto the street that would lead me to the road to RedQuarters. One of the usual dogs went off, but otherwise it was birds and me. I stayed alert, looking left and right, because of dogs and drivers. I caught a glimpse of motion off to my right, in an alley. The motion crossed the alley on the diagonal and came toward me, trotting at a brisk pace. It proved to be a low, black shape. With two. White. Stripes. Mephitis mephitis.
There’s an intriguing time lag between when the analytical part of the brain quietly observes, “Oh, look, it’s a skunk,” and when the survival part of the brain yells, “SKUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNK!!!”
I did not run. I accelerated to a wogging pace is all. Really. For an entire block. Just in case.
*It is an amazing, riotous jumble of flowers that no one else seems to be able to grow, and it overflows the small fences around the place. No one minds. That garden, too, are easing into the summer lull that is July and early August. Lots of milkweed, though. That’s good.