A Gift From Skunk

We live in a hillside house, with the forest reaching up just beyond our small back yard. In the early mornings, we enjoy taking our coffee out to sit in the yard and watch the birds and small critters bring the hillside to life.

Last week, we were enjoying our coffee (and celebrating that there was no smoke in the area from nearby fires) when a different odor drifted in. It smelled a bit like when you walk along a trail recently visited by a bear or a content skunk, but it also struck us as a little like propane. Of course, once that idea occurred, the smell seemed to come from the far end of the yard, and be growing. Since we had just had the propane tank filled at the end of the previous week, the idea that something might be wrong with the tank soon took full hold.

We called the propane company, and they said that to be safe it was time to get out of the house and let them come and check the tank. So, in the spirit of bugging out, we got dressed, grabbed a few things and headed into town. Within the hour, they had called back with the news that there was no leak and that the tank was fine. But, they also decided to change it out just in case, since it was looking old and worn.

That afternoon, Bill was talking with a neighbor and the man commented on the skunk that had wandered through that morning. Now if it had smelled obviously like a skunk spraying or like a dead creature along the road, we would have recognized it. Since we didn’t, we wondered what, beyond one more bug-out practice, the skunk was offering.

The next day, they traded out the newly filled 600 gallon tank for a new 250 gallon tank. (This works fine for us, since the hot water heater is our only propane use.) They have not figured out our revised bill yet, but it is likely that instead of owing the propane company about $750 for topping the old tank for the winter, we will probably have some credit waiting on the account when they fill the new tank in the spring.

I can easily become preoccupied with the financial and practical challenges of making the move to our more simple and earth-connected way of living. I am grateful to Skunk for the reminder that there are many unexpected possibilities that may emerge to smooth the way. Even as we work with the details, I want to stay focused on honoring the Earth and being dedicated to helping Her and all Her children to heal and thrive.

(Skunk’s other gift is the reminder that things are not always as they appear.)


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