not so bleak after all

photo by Pen Waggener
photo by Pen Waggener

A winter without snow can get pretty bleak at times, but I’m trying to be careful about what I’m wishing for. Janet and I decided to be adventurous and spend our birthday lunch trying out a new (at least to us) organic restaurant across the river in New London, Mangetout.

The vegan and gluten-free options were clearly indicated on the menu and the specials board, which was very helpful. We warmed up with coffee, so I splurged on a soy latte – haven’t had one since November when Tim’s brother was making them for us every morning we were there in Virginia. Joy!!! It was every bit as good as Dan’s! Janet had a quiche and I had the tomato-lentil soup and a side of roasted butternut squash. All I can say is that the soup was so delicious that I now thoroughly understand how Esau could sell his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s lentil stew.

After lunch we took a walk in the city and stopped by the Hygienic Art gallery where we saw an interesting exhibit of paintings, photographs, pottery, etc, created by local high school students. After we left, as we were strolling along, chatting away, Janet suddenly spotted a skunk making its way across a courtyard! Yikes! I scrambled and fumbled with the new camera, as I was not expecting to encounter anything but a still-life that afternoon. But I just decided to take whatever picture I could get…

1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut

Perhaps it was looking for a rest room? (It’s kind of blending in with the low white wall near the bottom left. The restroom doors say *Goddesses* and *Gods* – there are outdoor cultural programs presented here in the summer, hence the restrooms.)

1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut

I like what Avia Venefica says about the meaning of skunk encounters on her website:

We would all do well to take this animal symbolism from the skunk: Do no harm. Indeed, as a totem animal, the skunk asks us to defend ourselves effectively, without causing further conflict.

Interestingly, the skunk would prefer to be even less assertive. You see, it takes over a week to reproduce its stinky juices after using them (their glands are only good for about 4 sprays). Ergo, the skunk is 100% sure it must spray before doing so as this defense tool is a commodity in the wild – not to be wasted on false alarms.

In recognizing this, we see the skunk is the ultimate pacifist, and by adopting its peace-loving ways we may obtain the carefree lifestyle this creature enjoys.

After this bit of excitement was over, we kept exploring the shops along Bank St. and State St. and enjoying the gentle snow flurries that began fluttering through the air, adding more magic to the afternoon. We came across a colorful information booth that was boarded up with paintings on the boards covering the windows.

1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut

And before we hopped back into the car because we were chilled to the bone, we saw this tall house or apartment building with a nautical painting on one side.

1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.19.12 ~ New London, Connecticut

It’s fun having a birthday twin, a wonderful friend, to spend it with!

14 thoughts on “not so bleak after all”

  1. Hi,
    Wonderful photos, I am always amazed when I see a photo of a skunk, we don’t have this in Australia except of course in Zoo’s.

    I love the little information booth, that is just gorgeous, and the fantastic painting on the side of house, some people do have a lot of talent.

    1. Mags, I was watching a program about the eastern gray kangaroo population around Canberra, Australia, how they’ve been forced from the surrounding drought-stricken hills, and are trying their best to adapt to city life. Perhaps skunks are having the same problem around here, coming into the city in search of food.

      When I was a child, I once saw a mother skunk in the woods being followed by several babies – they were so adorable! But I stayed still until they passed. Our dog had been sprayed by a skunk and it took forever for the smell to dissipate, in spite of repeated washings!

    1. Thanks, Jane! Indeed, the last thing I expected to see was a skunk! Hopefully he’s found his way back out of the city on his own – somehow I doubt he’d appreciate any human efforts to help him. 🙂

  2. What a great day out, with so many special finds! My old dog, Shadow, introduced me twice to skunks. The first time, we both got sprayed, but the 2nd, I managed to avoid the smelly stuff. Poor Shadow got the whole offering to himself. California skunks aren’t as white as yours. Yours are lovely!! Thanks for the lesson on native skunk lore – it’s a good one.

    1. Ah, so you’ve been through a skunk spraying! What an experience! We didn’t see our dog get sprayed but when he came home there was no doubt what he had gotten mixed up with. 🙂 Looks like there are at least twelve kinds of skunks – I did a little research when I read that yours look a little different. I learned something new today! Yes, we could all do well to learn to defend ourselves effectively, without causing further conflict.

  3. I never see skunks, but I have smelled them – unfortunately by the freeway: ‘unfortunately’ because this can only mean that the poor creature had been hit by a car.

    Love the first picture – it looks like a tiny star has fallen to earth.

    1. I do feel sorry for all wildlife that have been hit by cars… skunks, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, racoons and even birds. The smell of skunk actually opens and clears my sinuses so I don’t cringe quite as much as others do when it is in the air.

      A little star-flake! So glad that Pen Waggener put it up on Wikimedia Commons so I could find it there! 🙂

  4. I would love to have joined you both at the restaurant. Sounds like wonderful healthy food–just the kind I love! Is it your birthday now? The one disadvantage to not having Facebook is that, unless someone blogs about it, I don’t know when birthdays are any more.

    1. Well, Kathy, you’ll just have to plan a side trip up here the next time you visit Kiah. Janet and I will meet you at the train station and we can walk to Mangetout. 🙂

      Birthday was January 19. It’s nice when Facebook notifies everyone – I’d feel funny announcing it on my blog! Hope you’re having a wonderful time in your sunny locale!

  5. A skunk sighting, very cool! These handsome creatures are indeed harmless, and only spray when threatened or very startled. I was walking one evening and turned a corner around a building and met one face-to-face on the sidewalk- the skunk raised its tail in defense and I walked backwards a ways, and the skunk wandered off the opposite way. All was well!

    1. Skunks are rather handsome, the more I’m learning about them the more admiration I feel for them. Sounds like the skunk you encountered was as surprised as you were to cross paths! And you both handled yourselves admirably. 🙂

  6. Yeay! The new camera is working beautifully! Thanks for the wonderful reminder of our day in New London, although it doesn’t LOOK as bitter cold as it felt!

    Last week I had something cross the road in front of me as I was walking home with Maggie (the dog). It was dusk, but I had the sense that the top of the creature was lighter than the rest. It was large and moved one side of it’s body and then the other, more like a waddle. I told Roger I saw a badger but he said we don’t have badgers in Connecticut. After watching the skunk “roll” across the courtyard in New London, I am pretty sure now that a skunk is what I saw a week ago.

    Mangetout! We’ll be back!

    1. It was bitterly cold that day, but the company was nice and warm!

      Two skunk sightings in a week, Janet – the universe is definitely sending you a message. Probably affirming who you already are, evidenced by the “COEXIST” bumper sticker on your car and your peace-loving nature. 🙂

      I’m wondering what Maggie’s reaction to the skunk was, if she noticed it, too…

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