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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Night Visitor

My mom asked me to check on the bowls of cat food outside before I went to bed, to see if any of the neighborhood strays had been around. I stepped out onto the darkened back porch and hyped up my night vision, mentally ordering my pupls to dilate - I don't know if it works, or if years of backyard astronomy have improved my dark-adaptation speed. I stared through the porch's back door down the steps at the darkness outside and tried to compare the shadowy scene before me to my mental image of what the steps should look like. Something seemed out of place, like there was an extra shadow, a hole in the image where dim reflections from concrete and granite should be.

Then I heard the crunching and chewing noises. There's somebody out there eating right now, I thought.

Whoever it was was clearly not going to be spooked by the sounds of a clumsy human clattering and rattling a few feet away, even though I was doing my best to move with stealth. I then switched my language to Cat and said Why, hello there. Psss-wsss-wsss-wsss-wss.

It ignored me.

It continued to ignore me for almost a minute, not looking up at all, continuing to eat, an inky black shadow with a trace of white on its back. Hey - waitaminute...

My mom made a noise as she came out onto the porch. "Anybody out there?" she asked.

"Umm...yeah..." I said as the black shadow backed away from the food bowl, turned around, and ran. It was much longer than a cat.

"Just don't go out there," I said.

************

So what was it? I don't know. My first thought was a skunk, but it was missing the white stripe along the spine and any trace of the characteristic scent. My impression was of something like a big black anteater, but we don't have those 'round these parts. The white marking on its back seemed to run across where the shoulders should have been - a pattern I've only seen in Tasmanian Devils, which we also don't have. Maybe it really was a cat. Maybe it was a skunk. I just don't know.

1 comment:

rimalicious said...

I was thinking skunk too and kept reading to find out if I was right .... thanks for leaving us all hanging like that!