Monday, 26 November 2012

Great Questions of Our Time……Why Skunks?

Road kill a skunk, grind it into the asphalt with unrelenting rubber, desiccate for a few months, wait until it becomes an integral part of the Macadam. The weasel teeth, the pointed nose, the double white stripes, that signature scent. The stink that lingers, the pervasive aroma of bad breakfast; of acrid coffee and burnt toast. Now add a rain storm and  the smell will liquefy, a vapour flowing like a thin fog, spreading from one carcase to the next, until the journey is dissolved in it’s gentle reek.

Too often the the roadkill debris is the sole evidence for the noises that emerge from the roadside verges. The multiplicity of croaks and grunts, weeps and sighs. The ones that sound like a wet chamois being wrung out, the distant, incessant car alarms, the road peckering digger, the greasless bearing, the overzealous referee. It builds into a soft cacophony, a background music that plays to the dark, right through the night. Yet there is one caller that had us perplexed.  A daylight song of falling sorrowful notes, that sounds like it might come from a bird, one that would complement the sad call of the Mourning Dove. The noise was coming up out of the flooded sedges by the roadside verge, and not, as I expected from the bushes on the fence line. It only takes a thrown pebble and the subsequent silence, like a flicked switch, to give the answer.  A frog.  Many frogs. I try to verify my own theory that the smaller the amphibian, the bigger the noise. Small Frog Syndrome.  All I ever get for my effort is a plop and series of concentric, spreading rings.  This frogs’ chorus will accompany us for several days, the noise becoming less languid and more manic, of turbo-charged F1Grand Prix cars screaming passed the chequered flag.  Are they a part of the carnage of blotted carcasses litter the verge, odourless dried out husks?  Then the next skunk broadcasts its presence.