Ever since I moved in here six years ago, I’ve had a skunk living under my deck. Despite that it eats my day lilies when they bloom (it also eats slugs, and I have plenty of those it is welcome to!), I am quite fond of the beast. And by “it,” I’ll now refer to 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 gets a little alarmed over 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 there. 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. It seemed to me she had a couple of buns in the oven.

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, used deck cleaning solution, scrubbed, rinsed, scraped, sanded a bit, and painted. It must have been a terrible ruckus, but I figured there wasn’t a skunk around, because my activity would have roused any normal being 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 bloomed, it was gone 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:

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 know they’re there, and have seen the little ones’ bouncing and scraping, I see more evidence in the garden now.

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


Also published on Medium.