Ever since I moved in here six years ago, I’ve had a skunk living under my deck. I’m quite fond of the beast, despite that it eats my day lilies when they bloom (but it also eats slugs!).

And by “it,” I’ll now refer to it as “she.” I accommodate her passage to my back garden by leaving a gap under the fence with a pile of brush as a welcome mat. She has to pass through two other properties before she can get home; thankfully my immediate neighbours seem to feel the same way about her, and don’t freak out when their dog starts barking about the silent black-and-white intruder.

I took the above photo early in the morning, around 7:30, when I saw her from my vantage chair by the patio door. She came in from her night of foraging and took a long, long, looooong drink at the dish. She then trundled under the deck – yippee! – and then, a minute later, waddled back out – uh oh. Was the space already occupied? She was looking rather hour-glass shaped. She was going to need a place soon.

Aside from a slight whiff of skunk spray, I’d had no other sign my deck’s den was occupied. I had a house party in early July, for which I had to get the decks thoroughly cleaned. I hosed them down, applied deck cleaning solution, scrubbed, rinsed, scraped, sanded, and painted. It must have been a terrible ruckus, but I figured there wasn’t a skunk around, because my activity would have roused the dead at any time of day.

Also, the pond had lilies in it. Relevance? The skunks had always taken them before – as soon as a lily blooms, it’s gone by the next day. Guaranteed.

But then, three evenings ago, I heard a rustling in the garden and wondered if I had some late-arriving birds, like grackles or starlings, who sometimes descend for a good party bath in my pond. But no. Instead, I met with this adorable sight:

Baby skunks playing in the garden

My garden has a family of four skunk kits, plus Mom! And I would never know it if I hadn’t seen them. That’s how good they are as neighbours. No tearing down my garden wire fencing; just coming and going as silently as thieves to their den under the deck.

Now that I’ve seen the little ones’ bouncing and scraping, I see more evidence in the garden now.

In my view, a garden without a resident creature is impoverished. So to make up for the meagreness of my vegetable plot, I am rich in hospitality to wildlife.