Paul Turner: A neighborhood skunk delivers its first blast of spring

March 19, 2019

We had the season’s first late-night skunk visit in my neighborhood this past weekend.

Well, it probably wasn’t the first visit. I suspect they have been around. But it was the first time this year one of the black and white waddlers saw fit to open fire, so to speak.

I suspect the telltale smell will have faded away by sometime in April.

We used to automatically suspect our neighbor’s irascible cat was the target of these odoriferous volleys when we would get a whiff of Pepe Le Pew. But now that Chloe is gone, we’re left to wonder what instigated the latest olfactory assault. I mean, what is the skunks’ motivation for stinking up our corner of Spokane?

Our other neighbor’s chickens? Her dog?

Or is it a broad-brush rear-end commentary on the winter about to bid us farewell?

Who knows. Skunks seldom explain themselves – even on those occasions when I have presumed to play the role of polecat whisperer.

So we’re left to wonder. What’s their beef?

I have a theory. Now perhaps I’ve been working for newspapers too long. But I can’t help but suspect they are upset about what they deem inadequate media coverage.

They have a case, after all. Skunks don’t often make the news. And when they do, it’s not usually in the most flattering context.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that their foul smelling spray is a defensive measure. To skunks, I assume it must seem like we humans believe they go around squirting their butts off just as a source of amusement.

Another theory holds that skunks believe they should be the subject of many more set-in-the-Northwest children’s stories. Perhaps even tales written by kids. You know, adventures also starring intrepid bear cubs and wise ravens.

They could undertake heroic journeys, befriend outcast second-graders and enjoy lots of snacks.

Maybe some Spokane grade school teacher could assign this as a creative writing project.

Write a story that goes with this title: “Blowin’ in the Wind: One young skunk’s incredible journey of self-discovery.”


I have a friend who, in my opinion, is one of the best guys in Spokane. For lots of reasons. I can’t say enough good things about him.

But apparently he is not universally appreciated.

You see, for the last two years, he has coached his young son’s Hoopfest teams. Each time out those teams got destroyed during the competition. Totally waxed.

And now my friend’s son – a good kid – is sort of hinting around that he has identified the problem: His team might need a new coach.

Ahem. I won’t pick apart the suspect merits of that argument. I’ll just wonder which of these lines the boy intends to employ when officially dismissing dear old dad.

“We’re looking to go in a new direction.”

“First, I’d like to thank my father for his years of dedication to the program.”

“While saluting our traditions and storied past, I am announcing today that the time has come to reach out to new leadership.”


Not everyone enjoyed Sunday’s column theme – the arrival of spring doesn’t magically fix everything.

Elizabeth Ricciardi was among those giving it a polite thumbs down.

“Dear Paul,

“I have to tell you your column in The Spokesman-Review was quite the downer. I almost didn’t read it all the way through but I thought this has to get better. But no, it didn’t. We all know that everyone has problems but it is great to see the sunshine and warmer weather and you can’t bring me down.”

End note

If you’ve ever actually been to NCAA Basketball Tournament games, you know there are times during each contest when there is a mystery timeout and the action stops dead for an interminable period. What’s happening?

It’s usually one of these things.

TV viewers at home are seeing pickup truck commercials.

TV viewers at home are seeing erection pill commercials.

TV viewers at home are seeing promos for shows you’ve never heard of.

TV viewers at home are seeing commercials for insurance companies.

TV viewers at home are using this break to visit the bathroom and then reprovision their snack trays.

TV viewers at home are flipping around to other channels and wondering who is watching all this non-tournament programming.

TV viewers at home are asleep in their chairs.

People back at the office are rushing to do a few minutes of work.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at srpaulturner@gmail.com.