Rite of Spring

A porcupine the size of a small pig waddles through trailside alders. The top of its tail and a large patch of its rear are bare. Before being attacked by a dog or the other predator sharp-tipped quills covered the bald spots. What ever attacked the porcupine is still trying to rid its muzzle of quills. 

            Aki starts to wander toward the porcupine, nose to the ground. In a few seconds she will spot movement and dash over to the Alaskan hedgehog. Seconds after that I’ll be pulling quills from her face. Sacrificing a chance for a great photo, I drop the camera and grab the dog. Together we watch the porcupine force itself into a blue berry thicket. The color of its quills is an exact match to the branches of the still-bare blue berry bushes, so it appears to disappear.

            We are on a mountain meadow. Snow still covers much of the trail. That’s why I brought the little dog here. It’s one of our rites of spring that requires a warm day after a cold night that sets up the snow for walking. When we reach the snow, the poodle-mix does a few donuts and then rubs her face in the white stuff.  She shakes her face, sending wet snow flying. Some of it ends up on my pants, which is a small price to pay. As my pants dry, I enjoy the meadow ponds capture the surrounding snow-covered mountains.

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