Skunked

The funny thing about yesterday, I was having a discussion about the sense of smell and the brain….and I got reading about it—about how closely our olfactory receptors are connected to our limbic system. Scientists say our sense of smell stimulates the deepest oldest parts of our brain first.This original discussion started with the smell of smoke—how it elicits an emotional response from me…like….maybe a little anxiety…. long before it makes it’s way to the cognitive (rational) part of my brain.

Late in the afternoon I took Denali for a run on the access road, where yesterday’s northwind knocked down big poplars, and made piles of toothpicks out of little dead trees that had so effectively braced themselves against the south winds of the summer. Lots and lots of trees down. We had rain, and the weather has cooled off so much, I was really happy to be out in it.

My mind wandered to information about smells and memories, and the ways they’re using aromas to enhance learning and healing..and then…as if I had brought it on, I smelled the distant woodsy smell of a skunk. Must have stimulated memories first (just like they say) because I immediately remembered a story about my grandpa and his cousin, who as kids, believed that a skunk couldn’t spray if it didn’t have it’s feet on the ground. They had some elaborate noose snare…that didn’t work. I smiled before the smell made it’s way to the cognitive part of my brain and I shook my head and called Denali.

The first time I ever smelled a skunk, I was in a car driving by cornfields…and I remember thinking…what’s so bad about that? It doesn’t even make me gag… I’ve smelled LOTS of things worse that this smell, including most colognes and perfumes…

When Denali cheerfully came running to me, I was trying to be optimistic about it…because skunk smell was everywhere, and…..she couldn’t have had a skunk incident without barking could she? After all, we’ve met that skunk. They’re sort of friends. Aren’t they? And, poplars were down on the road… you know the smell when you cut a poplar tree down? It’s sort of a skunky stink. Maybe, maybe…that’s all I smell?

Then she got closer. Oh boy, no. She had been completely skunked.

During dinner,

instead of reading about olfactory lobes, I was googling de-skunking formulas. Bingo: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, Dawn dishwashing liquid. This is how Denali and I spent the rest of our evening. Rub it in, wait 10 minutes, hose it off. It’s lucky to have an outfitting yard in a situation like this. And even though I was the torturer—we bonded. She doesn’t know what else to do but come to me when I whistle.

Then I went about de-skunking myself. The stink hovered around me like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoons. I think I might be clear, but how can I tell? I can still sort of taste it.



This morning the Cabin 6 guests were watching the rules video, as Denali came in to do her greeting rounds. I quickly intercepted her into my office. She’s looking clean and sleek, but still I think she’s got the cloud around her head. I didn’t want to have to tell them she was contaminated. However, as those nice people filed out of the door by me—I could tell that she had visited their cabin earlier. Maybe they didn’t know it, or they were too polite to say, but they had the cloud around them too. Even if it was only by secondary exposure, they too had definitely been skunked.

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