Sunday, June 13, 2010

Porcupine Prickly and Red Eft Angry - AT 3:3

I left early, out of spite. Grumpy thoughts clinging hard even in the midst of the beauty and bounty of nature. Six thirty in the morning and I trudged along, stepping over one Red Eft after another, listing my justifications.

Three days running, I’d brought up the rear. In all likelihood I’d be last again today. Getting a head start made sense. They’d all pass me and my lame leg before long anyway; it was only a matter of time. With a combination roll of the hip and an outward swing of the leg, I could avoid a stabbing pain in the right knee four steps out of five.

After a hasty breakfast and slamming one cup of tea, I’d swung on my pack and left. They didn’t need me. I pulled the cloth draped over my shoulders tight and flapped my arms like wings to stir an anti-mosquito breeze. I wasn’t going to let anger ruin the day. I’d keep it tucked away ready for when my husband caught up with me. For now I was going to enjoy the morning, damn it.

Something shifted off to the right. I froze. There, maybe twenty feet off the trail, a porcupine was shuffling up a tree. It froze too. A porcupine up a tree? Wished I had a camera ready. The porcupine decided it didn’t want to go up that tree after all. It shuffled down and disappeared.

I stood suspended in wonder. It was like a sign from God. The porcupine was a little reward for good behavior – or in this case bad behavior. God approved of my wrath and anger. (Really God isn’t into sickening sweet. He’s all about substance and grit.)

The hare caught the tortoise, myself being the tortoise, my husband the hare. He knew he was worse than in the dog house. Bless him. The sight of him made me smile but I did my best to squish it. I was mad for a reason, having a hard time remembering the reason, but there had been one. I turned my face away, pretending to ignore him, so he wouldn’t see my smile. Didn’t want him to think he was forgiven. A smile after the storm, even when hidden, is the most delicious delight.


The kids overtook us soon, caught up in the count. They’d already seen over thirty Red Efts. Another twenty or so efts later we made it to the end of our fourteen mile adventure. Plunking our packs in the dirt we dug out some grub and picnicked by the suspension bridge over Clarendon Gorge. The water was loud rushing past on the rocks below, and everyone was smiling.

[My camera wasn’t working on this trip. Above is a picture I took in Quebec last January. It is a small canister of porcupine quills hung next to an educational placard on a tree. It fit the theme of my cold-hearted prickly anger. The Little Rock Pond to Clarendon Gorge trip in Vermont took place in August of 2009. The rest of the trip is detailed in AT Section 3 Parts One and Two.]


  1. Bummer you didn't get a pic of the porcupine. They're a lot bigger in person than you'd think, right?

  2. Adayak,
    I'm not sure what I expected. I certainly didn't expect to see a porcupine at all. It was big though and gentle moving.

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