Lately I've been on a mission. After a year of surgical complications, infections and a fall off a roof, I'm making up for lost time. Outdoors I'm raking, hauling, pruning and piling. Indoors I'm sorting, cleaning, packing and purging.
As I go about these routine chores, I often become mentally preoccupied and jump ahead in my mind to whatever project I've singled out to tackle next. It was such preoccupation that nearly caused a collision.
After washing breakfast dishes and straightening the kitchen, I headed out the back door to toss the eggshells. I have an old, weathered box feeder that straddles a tree stump where I put out food scraps for birds and other creatures. There's a small pile of wood next to it.
As I was absent-mindedly emptying the bowl of eggshells and admiring the beauty of the day, I heard an unfamiliar sound. It was kind of a grunt.
What the heck was that? I looked around but didn't see anything.
Standing with a bowl and spoon in hand, I was puzzled. Well, no time to figure it out. I had work to do.
Immediately another grunt and a rustling of leaves brought my eyes downward and to my immediate right. Yikes! Within inches of my legs was a prickly porcupine gnawing on birch bark. No longer did my mind wander. Slowly I backed away until I could turn and zip into the house.
I grabbed my camera and zipped back outside, but the porcupine gone. How could that be? It couldn't have gone far.
Glancing around, I spotted the animal with its head backed into a corner of the house. Not a good choice for an escape, but then porcupines are so near-sighted it probably had no idea it now was truly cornered.
Gingerly I approached. Apparently deciding I was not a threat, the critter turned around to face me. Click, click, click went the camera. The porcupine made a beeline for the woods and I stepped back to give it wide berth. It's amazing how fleet of foot a porcupine can be and how swiftly it can disappear into the forest.
"Just another day in paradise," I thought as my mind returned to my mission for the morning.
It's amazing how Mother Nature gets our attention. It guess my close encounter with nature's pincushion was her way of telling me to pay attention to the sights and sounds at hand. And to remind me to take time to smell the roses. The work will always be there, but the small delights of the day may disappear without notice.
Andrea Lee Lambrecht, naturalist & outdoor writer, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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