A long day morphed into a late evening at the shop. Too many projects happening at once, only me here to get 'em done.

At 9:15 I managed to extricate myself from the last must-be-done-tonight task, turn out lights, tug on a toque, and head out the back door. While fumbling for keys, halfway out the door, I'm hit with an unmistakeable eau de skunk.

So powerful that the nasal hit immediately leads to watery eyes, and I instinctively back inside and pull the door closed quickly.

Unwilling to risk being sprayed, and uncertain how close the little stinker might be, I head out the front door, walk around the building, then crouch down to see under the van -- which is parked right outside the back door. I can't make out a full body silhouette but there's definitely something under the right rear axle. Hmmm.

As I walk back around to the front door it becomes clear that while I needed the van to run errands during the day, I don't need it to get home tonight. And I'd rather not risk getting sprayed myself, nor having skunk stink in the van if I can help it. I grab a helmet and light and roll my bike out the front door.

Rolling through the parking lot my commuter light isn't quite warmed up, with the result that I misjudge a curb I need to wheelie over and barely avoid stuffing the front wheel into it. Dohp.

Behind the grocery store and onto the bike path I go, and just as I turn uphill I hear a vaguely familiar ppsssssppsssssppsssssppssssss. I slow to listen more closely -- to ascertain whether my quickly developing flat tire is front or rear. But as I slow the ppsssss speeds up, and almost too late I realize *RATTLESNAKE*! The adrenalin hit propels me out of harm's way.

At this point I'm only 90 seconds into my commute home, and although the temp is fair I'm sweating bullets.

I continue up the hill, consciously trying to slow my heart rate and flush the anxiety from my system. I hit the false flat before the turn into the neighborhood, slowly becoming aware of the clear skies, multitude of stars, and waxing hunk of moon.

Just as I emerge from the only tunnel on the route I panic brake and barely avoid hitting another skunk with my front wheel. Adrenalin again propels me beyond harm's way, but I have to give a nod to luck too: the only reason I didn't get sprayed was because that skunk was in full flight. I drop two gears and slow down -- I no longer care how long it takes, I just want to make it home!

Where bike path ends I merge onto a side street and immediately swerve to miss a...

...black cat?! Briefly thought skunk (could you blame me?!) but never did smell it.

3 minutes later -- only 13 minutes since first walking out the back door of the shop -- I arrive home, wrung out.

Be careful out there.