Dennis the Skunk trundled purposefully along the bank of the Quassaick. The days of warm weather had lured him out of the den, that first scent of spring knocking at the doors and calling him forth. Winter’s not gone, he thought as the dusk descended, but it had rained, and the rain was working its way into the soil and loosening the grip of the cold. The water was high. Dennis left tracks in the sand near the creek mouth where it opened into the Hudson.
Upstream, unheard, a chunk of ice broke free from the bank, carrying with it a four-inch-thick tree limb with a cruelly hooked and broken fork. Dennis, nose-deep in a hollow carved out by the stream, looking for something tender to eat, didn’t see it coming. It caught him by the hind leg and swept him into the flood. He swam for a moment, but was lost. All that night a vicious wind blew, and the day dawned frigid.
Tonight, as our ferry crossed from Beacon to Newburgh, half a mile from either shore, the unmistakable aroma of skunk took over the cabin.