I was walking around a pond in a development in Louisville, Colorado, yesterday afternoon when I saw a fluffy black and white flag wiggling above the foot-tall grass. Then another appeared. Before I caught a glimpse of the bodies that went with the tails, I knew they had to be skunks.

I hesitated for a moment, thinking of their reputation even though I know it’s exaggerated, but reasoned that even if they noticed me, they wouldn’t be frightened into spraying, with me several yards away and easy escape routes all around. So I watched for several minutes as they moved between partial and complete concealment. I am not sure I have ever seen a living skunk in the wild, and I wouldn’t have expected to see one before dark. As best as I could tell, one was larger than the other and both were nosing along the ground or close to the roots of the grasses.

They disappeared into the high reeds closer to the edge of the pond, and I watched for another three minutes or so but didn’t see them again. I reluctantly headed back to the house, feeling so elated that sighting a rabbit hop ahead of me and across the road a few minutes later seemed ordinary.

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