Tuesday, June 7, 2011


What would a Deltaville blog be without a post on skunks?  When I was a kid, Deltaville and skunks went hand in hand.  I always knew I was getting close to Deltaville when I started smelling skunks.  I imagine the high number of skunks had a lot to do with the area still being very rural, and that "close" meant anywhere on the VA side of the Harry W. Nice Bridge.  Skunks were so prevalent that my grandparents had a "Skunk Crossing" sign by the steps to the trailer.  It didn't look anything like this photo. 
Anyway, while we could smell the skunks all the time, it was rare for us to actually see one.  Not surprising since they are primarily nocturnal and prefer sleeping in their burrow during the day.  My grandmother used to call them "polecats".  I used to think this was because they climbed up telephone poles, and for a while I was concerned I might get sprayed in an aerial assault while walking by telephone poles and tall pine trees at night.  Later in life, I learned that polecat- specifically the pole part- comes from either the French word poule for chicken or pulent for stinking.  I'm not sure but I think it's probably the stinking one.  And I don't speak a lick of French, I just read Wikipedia.  The Brat Child calls them "Stunks" which comes from the English word "Stunk" which means, well, stunk. 

And another little personal tidbit about skunks.  I love the smell of skunk.  Not the heavy eye burning throat constricting smell, but the smell you get when they've just walked through an area.  I know it's weird, but chalk it up to classical conditioning.  What's that you ask? It involves the presentation of a neutral stimulus (in this case skunk smell) with the presentation of an important stimulus (in this case Deltaville- my "happy" place).  Eventually the neutral stimulus becomes associated with the important one so that every time the neutral stimulus is presented, you get the reaction you  would have gotten from the important one.  Got that?  So Deltaville makes me calm and happy, I smell skunk whenever I go to Deltaville, eventually the smell of skunk makes me calm and happy.  Or I could say, think Pavlov's dogs. 

Stay Tuned for tomorrow's post which will hopefully be an illustrated story about my very first wild skunk encounter without trying to explain various psychological experimentation or techniques.
live skunk photos taken at the VA Living Museum


  1. NO! Please tell me you really don't like the smell of skunks. We get an occasional one around here at night. I haven't seen it, but when JJ gets his urge to go out at 3 a.m., if I open the back door to let him out, and I smell a skunk, I bring him back in immediately and make him hold his stuff.

    Once, while traveling in our motorhome through TN I was held hostage at the little store at the campgrounds because I wouldn't walk back to our space in the dark because of the smell. I guess I need an intervention.

    I can just see labs leaping in the air!! JJ's best friend at daycare is a lab. They nap together, it's so cute, I wish I had a picture.

  2. I am lucky the closest I've ever been to a skunk is Pepe LePeu ..

  3. It's odd you mentioned the psychological association because after living here in the mountains for the past 7 years I've come to associate the smell of fresh manure with clean air. When we go home to Virginia Beach each summer as soon as I step out of the air conditioned truck I'm amazed at how bad the air in my home town smells!