To spend time in the woods right after a heavy snowfall is a good time to observe tracks, and know that they were sunk there by a harry paw not long ago. So today I left the house in the early afternoon hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of a deer or furbearer after doing my best to follow the signs. I wandered up through the pines and across the field into a rough patch of eastern white pines. I first noticed that spiraling black eschar on a few short pines; remnants of a porcupine having scorched its way up through these trees some time ago. These ascending laps that neared the tops of trees began to change to a lighter shade. The chew marks at the beginning of this narrow trail began to change form black eschar, to an almost white tissue just beneath the bark.
As these wounded trees grew in abundance, I stopped for a moment to take in my surroundings when I heard a light chipping through the quiet pines that lay ahead. Just a few feet from my own, there were tracks planted by some furbearer or creature with a waddle in its step. Could it really be? I follow the tracks, ducking under branches and squeezing through the pines only to stop bent over at a ninety under a low-hanging branch, wondering where this ghostly creature had gone.
It was then that I heard a chattering of teeth, and so I take two steps and turn to my disbelief. The porcupine is there at the level of my eyes only a few feet away! I had stopped and bent over his tracks with his feet resting only about a foot above the back of my neck! I took a few more steps back in awe, watching as he ascended his tree. How great it was to run into my neighbor!
This was a short story of my own experience that kept me gleaming and audibly giggling all the way home. This porcupine is beauty in life, as many things are. It does take a willing mind to push a little further into the woods, or to veer from the main path to find a beauty more scarce, but don't forget to raise your eyes! I had looked hard at the ground; bent over and looking in circles at my own clumsy feet while this beauty was right in front of me. When we are obsessed and only looking down to focus on some small task, just listen. If we listen, we can hear life scream and chatter at us, telling us to raise our eyes and see this big picture. Like the porcupine, life tells us to share this moment and this beauty, but know that it is a beauty that is temporary. A beauty that is temporary on the spectrum of time, but may live on in those willing minds.