Pine coffins and skunk cycles of life and death

My breeding season is now, mid-Feb

Photo by Dave Herr, USDA Forest Service

Message to skunks:  Safe passage on the roads.

Mid-February is breeding season for skunks, and you are reminded of that every year because the poor polecats start showing up dead on the roads around here. Starting in late January, they crisscross country lanes looking to make family connections, and some of them meet their maker instead.

So late winter, for me, will always be skunk season.

At Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home of Piedmont Pine Coffins, there are four main but many mini-seasons that may stretch for a few days or for a few weeks:

spider web season
puffball season
asparagus season
“poke salad” season
muddy driveway season
morel mushroom season
etc. and etc.

There are lots and lots of these little periods where some facet of Nature suddenly catches your attention for a time. All of them are markers along the way in the turning of the great wheel, so to speak. The cycles of life and death. Just yesterday, when my little kids and I walked out to feed the animals late in the day, the boy discovered a hawk-eaten chicken. I pulled an egg, still intact and edible, from its oviduct.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to read that I find a material connection between life amidst these cycles and seasons at Melleray Farmstead and the work of making simple pine box coffins. It makes sense to me and feels like the natural thing.