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Joe was returning home through his cornfields on his tractor one late afternoon on towards about dusk, minding his own business (but not minding much), chewing a blade of grass, and generally not thinking about anything at all for a few minutes. Of a bit of a sudden, his reverie was nudged (not broken) by a flash of some unknown black something off to his left. This was the sort of a quick, not-quite-seen sort of flash that is succeeded by a fairly standard sequence of reactions:


cock head to one side.

glance in the direction of the flash, glance in an almost but not quite opposite direction, and glance back.

frown slightly.


return to the task at hand and rationalize something.

Joe did exactly this. His rationalization took the form of a stray dog. It is unclear what that dog may have been doing above the corn rather than the usual below. It is also unclear why 'blackbird' never occurred to him, though perhaps he preferred not to think about potential damage from any potential pesky hordes of accompanying blackbird friends. (This is all purely conjecture, as nobody ever asked him.)

At any rate, he continued on his wending way up to the farmhouse (this was quite a slow tractor, you understand, and a good large stretch of fields), beginning to think about dinner, considering the relative merits of biscuits versus popovers, when (as you may have suspected) there was suddenly another black flash, this time on his right side. This time Joe became more curious. He stopped the tractor, tipped his hat-brim up slightly, folded his arms, and began to scan the corn tassels slowly back and forth. A good five minutes passed with absolutely nothing happening, and hunger was definitely beginning to get a clear edge over curiosity when, exactly in the spot he was looking at the moment, about 15 feet away, something black and fairly large hurtled past from right to left, just above the top of the corn, and disappeared.

Interestingly, this something had fur. It also had a bushy tail. It displayed, however, a conspicuous lack of wings.

Joe blinked a few times, and with each blink the furrow between his eyebrows deepened. Just as he was reaching up his hand to give his head a thoughtful scratch another furry black bushy-tailed thing came whistling up from the cornfield, right in front of him. It rose as it approached, reached the top of its arc just above Joe's eye level, and with a sudden *SMACK* thumped into his chest and rolled down to his lap, bounced off his knees, and landed in a hunched heap on the tractor floor.

Neither party moved for perhaps thirty seconds. Joe stared down at the tousled black (and now discernibly streaked with white) heap of fur with no notable reaction whatsoever. As he continued to not react, a pointy-nosed head poked its way though what might have been a tail. Two glitteringly black eyes looked up at Joe. They held this pose for another prolonged moment. Then the skunk-- for it was clearly some sort of skunk-- gave itself a hearty shake and with one mighty bound leaped out of the tractor and scurried off into the corn.

Farmer Joe watched the cornstalks the skunk had darted between for a while, well after they had stopped rustling from the skunk's movement. After that he propped his head in his hands for a similar length of time, while shaking slightly with helpless chuckles. Then he lifted his head, pursed up his lips, restarted the tractor, tugged his hat back over his eyes, and headed off homeward with his mind, this time, quite firmly settled on popovers.