I was in the garden the other afternoon, surveying the impact of a few nocturnal visits by some of the indigenous wildlife. A mix of the suburbs expanding into the wild's domain, and the wild domain's expansion into the suburbs, has resulted in a number of regular visitors coming to my patch of tilled ground. I heard my granddaughter's voice as she came through the gate into her back yard at the next house over. Looking over our fence, I saw a skunk bolting for a hole in the back hedge.
"Aha, Jessie! I think I have discovered who likes to rummage through your trash cans," I cried.
Jessie and a young girl came over to the fence. Both eight year olds looked up at me as Jessie inquired about who.
"Why, I believe I just saw a skunk head out the back way," I said.
The little girl with Jessie looked at her and stated, "I bet it was one of the twins." The two girls had serious faces for about ten seconds and then both started giggling.
Puzzled, I asked, "One of the twins?"
Jessie straightened her face and replied, "Oh, yes. One of the twins. There is a local momma skunk that had twins last spring."
I listened further, wondering how she had come across this unusual bit of knowledge.
She continued, "Even though the two skunks are twins, they are opposites in many ways. The momma named them Out and In."
I was beginning to smell a stinker of another sort.
In all seriousness, Jessie told me, "Both skunks like the same kind of things but don't like to do them together. If one is playing video games, the other is outside playing soccer or hide and seek. If In is in, Out is out, and if In is out, Out is in. You know this causes problems for their mom."
"I can just imagine," I replied.
"Why, yes!" came the response, both young heads nodding with certainty and in unison. "You know, just the other day, while Out was in and In was out, the momma skunk went outside to call In for supper. She hollered and looked for ten minutes but couldn't find him. The momma went to Out and told him to go get his brother. Out walked out the door and came back in two minutes later with In. The momma was surprised that Out came in with In so quickly!"
"How did Out know where to find In?" I asked.
"Easy," Jessie stated, "Instinct!" Both girls fell into gales of laughter as they ran into the house for Popsicles.
I could only shake my head and smile. I think it was Carl Sandburg who said, "The sound of a child's laughter is God's way of saying that He still has faith in Mankind."
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