Thursday was a harrowing day for me– less so for Stephanie, so the answer is no, we did not have a wanted visitor arrive on Thursday. She is still pregnant (at least as of Saturday morning) Instead this is a story of how we had an unwanted visitor.
This is a long story, so get settled now– get a drink, sit in your comfortable chair, and get ready to read.
Let me preface this by saying that we bought the house in part because of our garage. It’s a gigantic 700 square foot structure with 3 wooden sliding barn doors that are approximately 7 ft long by 12 feet tall. One of the doors has a little utility door through which you walk, and it’s just a cool old building.
When we were looking at the house and we looked at the garage for the first time, I was like “Wow! We’ll take it!” I imagined it as a really cool clown studio that served the same function as the loft that I was leaving– a repository for my stuff, a place to rehearse, and a “place of my own”– ie, a private den in which I would (I thought) retreat to when I needed some private time. Having lived by myself for most of my life, I thought I would need that, and I had grandiose plans for how to achieve that place. My loft was 1200 sq. ft, my studio would be 700, and I’d still have the house to live in. Perfect!
Well, here we are, 3 years later, and the garage is still packed to the gills with all the stuff that won’t fit into the house. (IN that sense, it represents perfectly my loft, which, truth be told, was always two parts store-house to one part tiny theatre.) I include in this stuff 65 boxes of books, my mom’s two chairs that got displaced when we bought our couch, half of a packing crate from India that I’ve stood upright to hold more stuff, my circus ring, my clown props, a bicycle that I haven’t ridden in 3 years, but that I have had since I was 14, and lots of other stuff. Not to mention a door from India that my brother bought that he intends to turn into a table, 3 office chairs that my other brother salvaged from his old studio, 3 boxes full of glassware, silverware, and plates that are owned by our synagogue, a whole mess of wood from our renovation, and about a million shelves ready to be put together (metro shelves– thank you Nancy and Steven!) and even more stuff.
But this isn’t an inventory of my garage (impossible!), this is a tale of my harrowing day.
I was in the garage on Thursday putting some stuff away, and I thought I heard a noise. At first I thought it was on top of the roof (our roof is flat, and apples drop on our roof. But it seemed a little closer than the roof. I stopped stock still for a moment, heard a rustling, looked up, and saw a black and white animal slowly walking away from me.
Hey, I have a riddle for you: So, what’s black and white and is apparently living in my garage?
I’d seen skunks around the house in the last year or so (I came back last high holidays to see a skunk near our porch and nearly freaked out) And of course, there was the skunk incident of about 3 weeks ago, when I saw a plastic bag in the road, I went to go pick it up, and it turned out to have a dead skunk in it. But I never for a moment thought that they were living in my precious garage! It was a shock to the system.
At the moment of spotting, I had a typical clown moment: I did what is called a bunny hop (a yell and a take to the skunk, a take to the audience, and then I beat a hasty retreat into the house. I called the Yonkers Police non-emergency number (I really should put it on speed-dial) and called them– meantime I opened up the garage to see if I could convince the skunk to leave.
The police came about an hour later, only to tell me that I needed to hire a pest control company– apparently Yonkers, thriving metropolis that it is, does not have an animal control department. I called about 6 companies, and finally found one on the phone (one guy was too far north, another company in White Plains doesn’t come down to Yonkers) AAA Pest Control, based in NJ, has some guys who come to Yonkers. For a huge sum of money ($200!) they lay a trap for the animal, and will come and take it away. The trap is a metal humane trap with a slide that releases the door when a pressure plate is stepped on. They take the animal into the woods and release him.
If they don’t find a skunk, no refund.
Meanwhile my neighbor and I are trying to figure out how the skunk came in, and we are pretty sure that it slid under one of the garage doors. There is a little space under one of them. And we are looking in the garage to see if we can see the skunk before the pest control guys get here. No dice.
The pest control guys arrive, they lay the trap, I pay them, and start wondering if I imagined it– perhaps it was just a figment of my overactive imagination. I go into the garage several times to look, including once with the laser pointer that we use for the cat. No dice.
I check the trap several times during the day. Nothing.
Meanwhile I start reading all about skunks and skunk traps– most of the books say to use canned cat food or herring. They used marshmallows to bait it. Skunks aren’t good climbers, eat just about everything, have thick hides and so often eat bees and beehives, since they don’t feel the bee-sting, and can spray 7-10 times accurately to the distance of 15 feet, and I am thinking, “Oh No!” Skunks are also nocturnal, and they don’t spray unless provoked
Early the next morning I check the trap, warily peeking around the inside of the door– Omigod– there’s something in the trap! It’s black and white and got beady eyes– I’m pretty sure it’s a skunk!
I call the pest control guys, and they come around 9:30 or so and take the skunk away. There was a big fear that the skunk would spray when they came to get him, thus rendering my garage skunked. They wrap the cage with plastic wrap, and amazingly, the skunk did not spray. They took him away to a state park where they will let him out far from here. (Skunks have a general radius of about 2 miles, but can go up to 5 in hard times)
I fixed the hole where I thought they were coming in (which is a whole ‘nother maladjusted tale) and I was feeling a whole lot better, but then I had an awful thought– what if there are more skunks?
The hole fixed, it’d be impossible for the animal to escape!
Looking through the internet, I got a solution- I laid down some talc powder near where the hole was– to see if something tried to get out.
This morning I looked, and the powder was unperturbed– but that just means that nothing went over there.
But what if it had been perturbed? What then? I am thinking about buying a skunk trap– but if it fills up, who am I going to get to go inside and take it someplace far away?
I have the feeling that I will be in the garage looking over my shoulder for a long time to come. I think the time has come to clean out the garage and get rid of a lot of the stuff where a skunk (or other animal) may be hiding.