I confessed in an earlier post that I thought I might be a camp stove whore. Our trip to Red Rocks last weekend made me realize an even more disturbing personal trait. It would seem that I'm a speciesist. I found out that I "assign different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species membership". I made this disturbing personal revelation as I watched my paddle companions attempt to rescue a skunk who had gotten itself stuck on a limestone ledge on the north side of Red Rocks Lake.
I believe I noticed the thing first and made the comment, "Hey look, a dead skunk on that ledge". Poor Pepe LePew was looking waterlogged andmotionless but he got to his feet when the boats got closer. Immediately the female component of the group, The VoiceOfReason, Dogs4Bird1, and DebBrunch began the 'oh, isn't he cute, we need to help him' litany. The males, with one very notable exception, were all for either paddling on or mercy skunk euthanasia. And so the rescue began.
This is not the first story I've heard about strong, some would say ridiculous, efforts to rescue vermin. Our good friend in Madison, StHollyOfAssissi, told us about almost sucking up a baby mouse in her vacuum and taking it first to the vet and then to.....only in Madison folks, only in Madison.....some sort of rodent rescue place that actually had a lactating female mouse on site. You can't make shit like that up people, you just can't. The FrugalFisherman and I speculated that this 'rodent rescue facility' was probably located right next door to the Madison Herpetological Society, a wisecrack that was met with a stony look from St Holly. She also took a dead chicken in to the UW Vet School for an autopsy rather than stewing it in broth with some savory vegetables, but chicken are not vermin so I digress.
There were some hikers on the shore and they were recruited to assist in the rescue. It was thought that throwing some branches down might give the dimwitted and malodorous critter the idea that it could climb up the log. Of course no one was even sure if a skunk could climb since most of us had only seen them waddling along or flattened on the highway. I looked over, nodded at DocNordkapp, and he and I paddled off toward the setting sun. He confided to me that the year before he had been involved in a three hour rescue attempt with Dogs4Bird1 of a young raccoon. He persuaded her that if he left a granola bar for it to regain its strength, that it would swim to safety. Needless to say when they came back a week later there was poor Rocky, bloated and floating in the lake. Doc wanted no part of a repeat performance with a skunk and 'took the fifth' with any opinions on the rescue. Meanwhile our buddy Rich was formulating a rescue scenario with the ladies. It was his 65th birthday and I had no idea that he was in fact.....the VerminWhisperer!
I found out that the VerminWhisperer had not only rescued a stranded mouse ala' St. Holly, but in his most impressive vermin preservation effort, had actually carried a turkey vulture to safety on the end of his paddle! One of the first thing's out of the VOR's mouth when she saw poor Pepe's predicament was, "Hand me your spare paddle!". Huh? What!? Hand you my paddle!? She explained she planned to rescue the skunk with her paddle and then use mine to paddle with. So my choice was driving four hours home with either a reeking Werner paddle or a putrid Betsie Bay paddle in the car? That's when Doc and I decided to distance ourselves from the rescue attempt.
We think the story had a happy ending. After the women threw enough logs and branches down the cliff to construct a replica of Boonesborough, Pepe LePew became startled and jumped in the water and started swimming away. I guess we didn't know the damn things could swim either. The VerminWhisperer gently steered Pepe toward safety with his paddle. No odor, other than the usual ones, were detected when he rejoined the group. We figure that either Pepe was curled up in his den, had bitten a small child and given him rabies, or got run over on the highway after he trudged up the hill.
The day ended as we paddled past a bunch of vultures tearing at some dead rodent on a rocky beach. The VerminWhisperer hollered, "How's it goin' Frank!?" and one of the vultures banked in our direction, a sort of salute. I guess that, like Daniel in the Lion's Den, befriending some of the more repulsive of God's creatures just may pay off in the end. Happy 65th buddy, you're the only guy I know that spent his rescuing a skunk. And if you are laying in the desert with an empty canteen, buzzzards circling overhead, I can only hope one of them is your buddy Frank.