It was October 18th, 2011. The sun played peek-a-boo, ducking behind passing clouds and cheekily popping out again like a gleeful child. Bulbous shadows floated across the lawn in tandem with their fluffy white counterparts above. I absorbed the sights as if they were harmonious sounds, the clouds providing a strong bass line as melodious bursts of golden light trickled through the pines.
Then she arrived, hopping and bopping through this symphonic space like a tuba in the strings section. From a distance, she looked like a ground hog, or perhaps a beaver. But, no. She was a beautiful little porcupine.
Climbing the hill toward the house, she took a turn past the dog yard – which sent the dogs into an ear piercing cacophony. When she redirected, I grabbed my camera and followed with a wide birth letting the zoom bridge the gap.
Through the woods, we clamored over rotten tree trunks, rock walls, and through a maze of maple saplings. Leaves crunched under our feet – my footfalls in whole notes, hers adding a layer of syncopation. When she stopped under a wood pile covered in grape leaves, I circled around at a distance. It was my hope to head her off and see her precious face after following the spires of her tail this far.
We both sat quiet and still until that syncopated pace began once more. She was headed straight for me, although her poor eyesight sheilded me from view. I zoomed out as she drew near and hit my widest camera setting with her face still filling my view finder. My blood grew cold. I was really that close.
Taking one slow step back, the snap of a twig alerted her to my presence. We both froze for several minutes, her quills poised. Face to face in those moments, I watched with respectful curiosity. My pulse slowed as my muscles released. She winked and breathed. A sense of peace washed over us both. Then she turned and went on her way. I thanked her for her time and skipped across the sun speckled forest floor toward home.
This was my first up-close encounter with a wild porcupine, and it wasn’t my last.
For more adventures, be sure to visit my next post…