by Ranger Daniel F.
Mephitis mephitis -
Striped Skunk Squad
by Daniel F. Murley
The cheering section
was in place and each face was focused on the events about
This particular group
of rooters was standing anxiously behind glass and I gave a
nervous wave as I took to the field of confrontation. Now, the confrontation which was drawing so much angst and
attention was one not normally sought by conventional
sporting devotees. I was taking the field with the
intent and the game plan to face one of the fiercest foes in
the forest summer leagues, the black and white clad...Mighty
I was armed only with a
camera and was purposefully hoping to get as close as I
could to the new team of mustelids who had taken up quarters
in an old redwood stump clubhouse near us. Now, this
squad had a great group of rookies and though relatively
young, had been working on their game. That game was
betrayed by the acrid odor which hung in the evening air.
These feisty fur balls
come from a long line of tough all stars like the Bodega
Badgers, the Washington Weasels and the Tahoe Martens.
They are actually even related to the fearsome Michigan
Wolverines. In fact, if one looks closely the white
stripes on their black heads are formed in the same
Suddenly I heard a loud
tapping coming from the luxury boxes. Oona was
frantically tapping on the glass and gesturing to the creek
bed. Sure enough over the rise, across a downed log
and onto the field strode the striped skunk squad. At
first I had thought that was the referee crew but soon the
raised tails and shuffling waddle of the team members gave
This was the second
time this evening I had been out there and though the
earlier match had ended in a draw. I was not to be
deterred. I stood my ground; I was going to prevail.
They kept heading right for me in a determined, seemingly
organized formation. My hands trembled on the camera
as they got closer and closer but I wasn't going to flinch.
I knew that these guys
(actually the team captain was the mom) had notoriously poor
eyesight but excellent smell and hearing. It must have
been my human odor, as I was perspiring a bit, or the
clicking of the shutter button, but the leader finally
stopped just 15 feet in front of me. I knew I was well
within the maximum effective range of the noxious spray but
I held my ground and after head-faking left and right, the
squad shuffled off toward the sidelines.
Breathing a somewhat
smelly sigh of relief I gave a triumphant wave of
acknowledgement to my fans, saluted my opponents and
shuffled myself back to the safety of the grandstands.
The accompanying image of the striped skunk huddle and the
adulation of my faithful fans are my trophies and testimony
to that twilight double-header.
*Independent Coast Observer (ICO),
July 29, 2005.