August 31, 2007

Close Encounter

For the past several weeks, running has taken place early in the morning. It's been way too hot at any other time of day. Afternoons have been over 100 degrees F. At sunset, it's still above 90. Even at 6:00 a.m., I quickly work up a sweat as I run three miles through the rice fields.

The problem is that, as summer prepares to give way to fall, the sun rises later and later ... which means it's still dark at 6:00. I can't wait for the sun, because by 6:45 I need to get the rest of the family up so they can get ready for school/work. Hopefully the weather will cool down and I can run in the afternoons, because running while it's still dark is not a good idea, as I found out yesterday.

Saydee (the dog) and I had just started our run. The eastern sky was starting to get light, but the western sky was still dominated by the almost-full moon. The birds had already begun to sing. Crawdads were scuttling across the pad. About ten yards ahead of us, a small black mammal was sauntering into the path.

A small black mammal with a big white stripe running down its back.

I froze, but Saydee ran up to investigate. "Saydee! Get back here!" Saydee and the skunk faced each other, about three feet apart. The skunk raised its tail.

I clapped my hands and continued calling to Saydee. How far can skunks spray? I didn't care to find out, and stayed back. I was sure that Saydee, almost nose-to-nose now with the skunk, was done for.

Slowly, the skunk backed away, its tail still raised. It disappeared into the rice field. Cautiously, I began walking forward, my eyes on the spot where the skunk had disappeared. When I reached it, there was no sign of the skunk. "That was a close one, Saydee."

Hopefully the weather will cool down next week, and we can run in the afternoon.

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