Jack and I were on the way home from the metal recycling place this afternoon--took in nearly $30 with 16 pounds of cans we collected all winter and an old Jeep radiator!--when we were overcome by the smell of skunk at the north end of town.
Smell, as I understand it, is the sense most closely linked with memory.
It was summer 1998. I was the church girls' camp director, and we were camping at Payson Lakes. It was very stressful being in charge of girls' camp--not just because it was important to make sure the girls were having a good time and learning valuable things, but because I was responsible for their safety and welfare. After the first day, I was not wearing the mantle of leadership particularly well.
Then it was 3:00 in the morning. I was woken up with screams of "Margy! Margy! Come here!" The mantle was mine, no turning back. The girls had discovered a skunk in their tent, trapped under one of the cots. Suddenly there were more cries, "Margy! Margy!" I left one of the assistant camp directors to deal with the skunk under the cot (luckily there was no room for it to raise its tail and once the tent was clear of girls it was relieved to make a peaceful escape). I raced to see what else had gone wrong and discovered skunks nosing around our kitchen area. Somehow we chased them off without creating a bigger problem.
The next morning we had a Very Serious camp meeting. It was essential to reign in whatever treats had lured the skunks to our campsite. The girls rallied. We saw no more skunks for the rest of the week.
One crisis handled. Then we found out we couldn't use the flush toilets anymore due to a water shortage . . .