Seems like a crazy thing to do, sitting by a copperhead rattlesnake. But that's what Dillard does. Sometimes I think her curiosity impairs her common sense. Yes, she has a snakebite kit on her person, but why take the risk of getting bitten? For me, that would be akin to seeing a train coming and just standing on the railroad tracks to get a better look.
Last night, when I pulled into my driveway at about 10 o'clock, I saw something black-and-white amble through my headlights, heading toward my front porch. I had a moment of panic. Although I didn't see the creature clearly, I'm pretty sure it was a skunk.
I put my car in park and sat there, wondering what I was going to do. You see, I've been sprayed by a skunk three times in my life. Three times. Now, I can't smell skunk. It's a condition called specific anosmia, and it's hereditary. My brother can't smell skunk, either. We are lucky in a way, but we are also cursed. The luck is that we are immune to the skunk's defense. The curse is that we can still be victims of the skunk's defense and simply not know it.
So, yesterday night, I was sort of like Dillard. I knew there was danger close by, but I had my snakebite kit with me. I was safe, but I didn't want to take the chance of a close encounter of the black-and-white kind. The scent of skunk lingers for days. At least, that's what my wife has told me. I didn't know what to do.
Bob Dylan has said that the answer is blowing in the wind. I sat for a good ten minutes in my car, peering into the darkness. The wind was blowing strongly, and leaves were swirling and whirlpooling around me. I didn't find any answers. I finally decided to bite the silver bullet and made a dash for the house.
I didn't encounter Annie Dillard or a rattlesnake or a skunk or the Swedish Academy trying to find Bob Dylan to give him his Nobel Prize. Which is a good thing, because the members of my book club are coming over tonight to talk about Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.
They wouldn't have appreciated their dinner or Saint Marty seasoned with eau de skunk.
|Wouldn't want to meet him in the middle of the night, either|