I was face-to-face with a porcupine that lay so still in the crook of some pine branches that I wondered if it was dead. Thrilled to see wildlife, I was also startled and scrambled back down the tree as fast as I could go.
I didn’t know porcupines could be that big and I didn’t even know they climbed trees! Maybe it looked so big because each one has about 30,000 quills. And maybe it was sleeping during the day because porcupines are nocturnal. They climb trees with their long claws, eat pine needles, and then, apparently, take a nap.
I was nine and I’d crossed the road from our northern Minnesota house to sit in my favorite spot by Goose Lake. The prickly rodent must have liked it, too, perched in the tree with an excellent view of the water. If I’d known more about it’s kind, I would have had the confidence to climb back up the tree and take a second look.
Jamie Sams (Medicine Cards, p. 85) says, “Porcupine is a gentle, loving creature, and non-aggressive. When fear is not present, it is possible to feed a Porcupine by hand and never get stuck by its quills.” Searching on Word Press, I, indeed, saw a porcupine named Thistle fed by hand. (The video has had millions of hits, because it is pretty darn adorable. Plus, the critter has hiccups.) Thistle could be an ambassador for what Sams calls its special medicine: “the power of faith and trust.” This tells me I have some things to learn from these prickly critters.
I just hope we don’t run into one with our dogs.