I remember how a trip to the zoo and long time spent studying the crocodiles there really helped them get over that fear, so as soon as we got home, I looked up pictures on the internet. Still scary. So, I Googled "skunk nature documentary" and found an incredible PBS show online. We watched the first part that night, and Jaan and Raia were able to go to bed with their fears relieved. The next night we finished watching, and now there aren't any fears left. We're all obsessed! Well, poor Papa didn't watch with us, so he has to hear constant stories of what we saw.
(Funny note: Asya had been too busy to nurse much almost all day at the dacha. She was enjoying the skunk show, sitting in my lap, pointing and commenting, until we got to the part where they feed orphaned baby skunks. She saw the milk all over their faces, flopped over sideways, demanded milk and didn't look up again.)
Now that we know everything about skunks , we know that what we smelled that night wasn't a skunk. So, what was it? We've asked around, and people have said ласка or хорёк, weasel or polecat (?). Although, the further I've gone with looking up animals in that family, the more possiblities I've found, and the more confused I've gotten with Russian, Ukrainian and English names. Will said that it's the first time we've tried to identify a critter by smell. It was probably a weasel (ласка), just because that's the most common stinker around here.
Now, this week's nature challenge just happened to be about skunks and badgers. (Did that really just happen, or did Barb do it especially for us? ) We had already watched the documentary, so we headed into some of the reading. I've been saving the Burgess Animal Book for later, but I thought Jaan would enjoy a taste of one chapter, so we opened it online and listened to it on Librivox. It was a little over Raia's head, but Jaan loved it.
Raia drew the cutest skunk ever, from this photo:
(Be sure to click through the link and look at Raia's skunk. Note the photo tags. ) We really enjoyed the artistic process. She noticed that the skunk's face is shaped like a triangle, or, as she said, "like a piece of pizza." Her drawing doesn't really capture that, but you can see the other triangle that she found: the black one, between the white stripes. Asya and I drew a polecat to go with Raia's skunk.
* There are no real forests in this area, because it's all empty steppe land. However, when they built Dneprorudnoe, they did an incredible job of planting trees. Some areas almost look wooded. . . if you don't turn your head to see how the trees grow in rows, sorted by kinds.