Stinkiní to high Heaven

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer December 29, 2011 08:55 pm

Crossin’ the highway late last night...

He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right

He didn’t see the station wagon car

The skunk got squashed and there you are!

You got yer

Dead skunk in the middle of the road

Dead skunk in the middle of the road

You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road

Stinkin’ to high Heaven!

Loudon Wainwright III in 1973 wrote the classic song “Dead Skunk.”

Many thought the song was meant as roundabout criticism of then-president Richard Nixon. I thought it was about the skunk, the kind I see almost daily “taking naps” along the Cove-Union highway.

I was innocently driving down the road the other day thinking about breaking new year’s resolutions I hadn’t set yet. Suddenly, I saw a critter dawdling in the road, one that would let its presence be known far into 2012. The Prius Snow Leopard whooshed to a stop inches off the critter’s back bumper.

To the striped skunk, which usually is seen only at night, and can only see a few feet, the car must have been a blur. By the time it sees a car it’s often too late to prevent a catastrophe.

Several years ago, I was running down the Union-Cove highway before sunup and heard a skittering sound.

Presently, I was nose to tail with a skunk also out for its morning jog. I slammed on the brakes and my Nikes swooshed to a stop.

Seems Union County is becoming infamous for road-killed skunks. What smells to high heaven in the Grande Ronde Valley is not just having to punch in 541 before a local telephone number, which makes dialing across the street feel like long distance. It’s also the skunks.

The bigger point is, when encountering the skunks of life, give them a wide berth if possible. Nothing says you have to run them down and pay the consequences, for months at a time enduring the stink.

As a regular bicyclist I often have to yell at motorists, “Hang up and drive,” while they yell at me, “Ninety percent of bicyclists give all bicyclists a bad name.”

I’ve also witnessed, on the Cove-Union highway, five road-killed skunks over a month’s time.

I’ve wheezed past carcass after carcass of the unlucky critters. Every time I do I think of Richard Nixon.

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