Saturday, November 28, 2009

Am I Ready For a Job with CSI...

... or at the Jeffersonian?

Those of you who are squeamish may not wish to read much further, although I've tried to be "gentle." Those intrepid souls who may watch, or be addicted to crime scene and forensic investigation TV shows, as I am, know what I'm talking about.

Background: On Thanksgiving evening, after dark (which comes much too early these days), I ventured outside to the small shed in my back yard to retrieve a shovel with which to dig up some tender plants in my front garden, since below-freezing temperatures were forecast for that night.  As I got to within about 6 feet of the shed, my nostrils picked up the unmistakable scent of decomposition -- and it wasn't moldy leaves.  Some creature of the Animal Kingdom had died within close proximity and was making its remains known in natural, but most foul, manner.  It was too dark to look for a body, and I hoped it was just some bird, or perhaps a squirrel which had met its Maker on my property.  I didn't want to be walking around in the dark and go ankle-deep into something I'd much rather not step on.

Yesterday afternoon, I ventured out with gloves,  a rake, and anvil pruners (unfortunately there is quite a bit of undergrowth behind my shed.)  Even with my nose in full operational mode, I did not locate the object of my search by the time the light was waning, and so put off further investigation until today.

A more aggressive investigation, with more snipping and raking, and again using my olfactory sense, led me to believe that whatever was decomposing was in a spot underneath the back side of the shed, which is only about 6 inches off the ground.  I could see nothing, even with bending as far as I could and peering underneath.  I finally used a long-handled two-pronged hoe for a probe. I initially pulled out a few small pieces of fur, which I took to be that of a squirrel.  I thought to myself that a creature as small as a squirrel would rapidly disintegrate and the odor would soon fade. "Let Nature take its course," I thought.

However, the next probe encountered something much more substantial than a squirrel.  I pulled gently on the object and there quickly was revealed a large and very dead raccoon.  It had been dead for some time, as insect and larval activity had reduced its mass by about one-third.

After a quick call to Gardening Daughter, who advised me to dig a hole and bury the creature, the remains were interred with minimal ceremony.  "From Earth you came, to Earth you are returned. Rest in Peace."

I managed all the activity quite well, I thought, but quickly came to the conclusion that I definitely am not ready for a job that would require dealing with human remains. I know that, unfortunately, that is a job which must be done, and the people who deal with such things on an all-too-frequent basis are to be commended.  

Later, with more pleasant things, I trust.

15 comments:

Teacher's Pet said...

I am sooo into forensic scienc programs...and watch surgeries on TV (much to the disgust of my hubby who walks through the room with fingers in his ears...and his eyes covered)...so this didn't bother me. I imagine the smell was pretty potent, though.
Glad you gave it a proper burial.
Smiles to you from Jackie

Snap said...

That was an interesting backyard adventure!

Hope the rest of Thanksgiving weekend is more pleasant!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Cute post, Pat.... I think that CSI can use you---especially that keen nose!!!! ha....

Glad you found the culprit... That is a horrible smell.

Hugs,
Betsy

faye said...

Great story.

I work in a microbiology lab and should be use to a vast array of
odors, but some things still make me gag.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

jinksy said...

At least on TV, your olfactory senses come don't get involved!
Full marks for your sleuthing and determination in tracking down your own 'victim'. :)

Patty said...

You are too funny. Well it wouldn't have bothered me, since I no longer am able to smell anything, but occasionally do get a whiff of something strong, but can never quite pinpoint the odor. LOL Stale cigarette smoke I can usually tell.

I watch all of the CSI programs, plus Criminal Minds. I enjoy true murder books also. My family thinks I'm weird. LOL

When I worked at the Adult Education School in the office, we had a gentleman that headed up the police academy that worked for a CSI, and I was told he had to go out and say the body was dead. I asked him if that was true, he said, yes, I go out, tweak their nose and if they don't yell, I know they're dead. I guess even they have a (sort of) sense of humor.

Arkansas Patti said...

Don't suppose you tweeked the coon's nose did you? Probably didn't have to since he had all ready tweeked your sense of smell.
Very nice of you to offer a burial along with services. Way to go :))
Sure glad TV doesn't have smell a vision yet.

Countrygirl said...

You should be ready for CSI - after all, you solved this crime all on your own, and you disposed of the evidence without tons of paperwork! Good job.

Jewels said...

Very well written and enjoyable post, Pat! I do love the science behind shows like CSI, but I am a wimp and can’t stomach watching them. I am impressed you were able to deal with putrid, maggot infested, corpse yourself. Ugh!

rhymeswithplague said...

Don't look now, but I believe disposing of the evidence is usually associated with the criminals, not the investigators.

NitWit1 said...

Sounds like our possum experience under our mobile. It was awful when the guys started removing insulation and finding several dead possums which usually managed to fall on them as they were crawling around on their backs.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Ugh! What an awful stench! I could smell it from here...so glad you properly disposed the remains!! ;-) Like Jackie, I have no trouble with such details...thought at one point I wanted to be a doctor...Even have watched minor surgeries performed on myself on computer monitors during the procedures...my dad was the same...so...all this to say, I LOVED this little bit of detective work...and mystery...I will begin calling you my Miss Marple or Inspector Poirot!! Enjoyed this post so much! Janine XO

Suldog said...

Hmmmmm. The interesting question is what the coon died from, no? Any ideas?

Hilary said...

Aww good for you for figuring it out and for giving the poor creature a dignified burial. I hope it simply died of old age. I have a huge soft spot for raccoons.

lunardancer said...

Your description of the raccoon's carcass painted a most vivid picture in my mind that turned my guts upside down. Luckily, revolting as it is, it wasn't that revolting enough to make me puke. A very interesting adventure indeed! You're right about morticians being worthy of commendation; however, I can't help but wonder how they can numb themselves like that.