So here I am, walking through the woods in the gray light of morning, ducking under barbed wire, dodging scraggly cedar branches, stepping over fallen logs. My puppies are a dozen feet away, noses to the ground, investigating rocks and brush and just oozing with the joy of life, as usual.
I come to the edge of a dry creek ravine and look for the best way to descend. That's when I noticed this thing at the bottom, nestled in the rocks. It was about the size and shape of a tumbleweed, but it was colored a richer brown and more filled out.
Then it moved. Well, I thought it did. Maybe not. But yes, it did it again, and that's when I saw it's little black face and right away I knew what it was, although I'd never seen one outside of a zoo and never, ever expected to see one around the Hollow.
It was a porcupine, of course. I kind of gave it away in the title, didn't I?
The dogs spotted it right about then.
"Stay!" I told them when they started to charge. And, miraculously, they did! Such good puppies!
It was still fairly dark, and he was at least thirty feet away (I miss my zoom lens!), but I snapped a photo anyway, before Ereth (that's what I named him, from the Avi books) turned and waddled up the other side of the ravine. We waited for him to disappear into the brush before making our way down to the creek bed.
We haven't seen him since, but that's okay. What matters is, I saw him once.
"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson