Birthday Morning

In late October, I woke to a landscape glittering and bright in the golden sun of daybreak. It was the first snow of the season, and this particular day was my birthday. Through the window, from the warmth of my bed, I watched a rabbit making tracks as our Newf, Shamus, ate frosted crabapples straight from the tree. The view made me cheerful for the first time in a long while.

Lately, my mood had sagged like a three-sizes-too-big pair of socks around my ankles. My hands (as many of you already know) had been diagnosed with a disfiguring, incurable disease and a second malady was highly suspect. But today, with the whitewashing of the world, all of that was erased.

October Porcupine by Kim Clune

As the sun edged over the roof-line and warmed the space under our three-tree apple orchard, our friendly porcupine emerged from the forest. This was our third meeting. (For more about that, visit My Unlikely Encounter with a Porcupine and Return of the Porcupine, an Apple Fest.)

The twin fawns sauntered out next. Having been suckled and weened under these very trees, they tiptoed carefully around this new prickly arrival, jumping back at the slightest breath. As hunger overcame their hesitancy, they learned to eat peacefully side-by-side with the porcupine, albeit with a watchful eye.

For an added surprise, our fine flock of turkeys marched up the hill. With more confidence than trepidation, they took note of the situation and strutted straight past the napping marsupial to snap up chunks of birthday apples for themselves.

This magical dance of wildlife comings and goings went on into the early afternoon and, as the snow dripped and dropped from warming limbs, I ventured outside for a close encounter myself. The air was thick with the soft thuds of heavy golden leaves dropping and melted snow falling like a soft and gentle rain. This white noise masked my measured footfalls as I drew near.

Only the porcupine was present then, snoozing with steam streaming off her back in the heat of the sun. She had rocked back onto her rounded behind, elbows resting on her thighs and hands folded below her drowsily bobbing head. At times, the loose snow pack from the tree above would break free and tumble onto her without effect. The world literally rolled off her back that afternoon and, when she woke to eat again, even my presence was no bother.

And so we spent several hours side by side, making my birthday nothing short of magnificent. This small but bright and healing being brought me tremendous peace and joy. But our relationship didn’t end there…

I hope you’ll come back next week for another piece of the story.