The sun warmed the earth around Sycamore Grove causing the sleeping bulbs to burst forth with blossoms of all colors. Yellow daffodils nodded their heads in the breeze while tiny crocus displayed their purple petals. Forsythia bushes were filled with tiny snowball like blossoms.. Tree limbs were red with new growth and fields of newly plowed earth waited for farmers to plant. Folks around Sycamore Grove were preparing for another year of garden vegetables and fields of corn. Squirrels scampered from tree to tree engaging in an open display of romance. Their bushy tails swished wildly as they chattered songs of love for their mates. The grass was beginning to inch its way up from the moist ground leaving old man winter far behind.
Sleepy heads popped out of burrows to greet the new life of spring all around them. Rock crevices, hollow logs, and small caves were alive with creatures who had huddled together to keep warm through the cold winter months. Porcupines made shrill screeches, whines and low grunts as they scampered out of their homes to find fresh food. They would be scouring the land to find things to begin making a new lining for their burrows, new fresh cotton for the beds, and long green leaves for the cushions. It would be a very active spring for all the wildlife around Sycamore Grove once more. However, a new porcupine was about to make her debut for the first time. Little did everyone know it would be a life changing experience for Priscilla.
Priscilla had lived with a family of six individuals in a very complex burrow all winter. She left the young porcupettes behind for their mothers to care for. She had huddled to help keep them warm but was ready for some exploring on her own. She was quite tired of being squeezed from all sides and was ready to find her a mate and make her own burrow. Today looked like a good day to begin.
The young porcupines had no quills from birth and she enjoyed their soft bristles. Their eyes were open now and they would be coming out as well. It would only take a few weeks and their quills would become hard like hers so they could defend themselves if need be. Priscilla had watched the males as they helped with the little ones and she wanted a male that would help her do the same. After all, the male was the father and should rightfully care for their own babies, she thought.
Priscilla was almost a year old and she considered herself an adult. She hoped she would live as long as her ancestors who lived for over ten years. She planned to be even more careful around the roads because it appeared most of her relatives were killed by trucks and not wild beast. Despite her poor vision she had a very keen sense of smell and the air was filled with all sorts of fragrances. She would find her favorite one and wrap herself it in before her courtship. Everything had to be just perfect for she was a white porcupine a very rare color in Sycamore Grove.
Her small eyes searched the fields and her blunt nose was busy picking up new scents. She was anxious to nibble on fresh green leaves and the fields were alive with them. Making sure her spines were sticking up and ready for defense if need be, she moved slowly across the wide open field. Her short sturdy legs and the five toes on each foot needed exercise from all the rest. Her powerful claws grabbed into the dirt to assure her stability as she moved along. Her small ears were very sensitive and would alert her of any enemies. She wondered why her entire family had such blunt muzzles. It is not so attractive, she thought reminding herself of a future romance. It’s ok for the fellows but not as feminine as she would like.
Weeks passed and Priscilla met a handsome male porcupine named Pepper. He was gray in color with silver like quills that he would flaunt about when she was near. They would scout the river beds for roots and fresh fern. She simply loved to spend her days just strolling through the countryside. As time passed Pepper asked Priscilla to be his wife and she readily accepted. They began their courting rituals like all the other wildlife. Priscilla initiated the courtship by presenting herself to Pepper and flattening her spines to enable mating to take place. She was looking forward to having some young ones of her own.
“Pepper we have about three months to find a burrow and line it with grass and leaves. We must also begin collecting thing to store for our winter food source. We have played in the woods and fields long enough. Now we must get busy.” She winked.
“Yes we have lots of work to do. I will dig the burrow myself and you can find the grass for the lining. Once we get that underway we can start to gather the food. I’m so glad that we are together. I don’t like living alone.” He moved closer to Priscilla rubbing his nose against hers. “It will be cozy this winter with you to cuddle with.” He grinned.
Suddenly out of no where came a hunting dog. His loud barking caused Pepper’s quills to stand up on ends. Before he could prepare himself properly for battle the dog attacked rolling Pepper in the newly plowed dirt. Pepper stood up and began to make a loud hissing noise. He was hoping this would scare the dog away. He then began to stamp his feet and click his teeth together. His erect quills began to vibrate but the dog did not take the warning seriously. Just then pepper began to run backwards and rammed the dog in the side leaving a vast assortment of sharp quills sticking into the dog’s skin. The dog must have thought someone had thrown a thousand darts at him for he took off yelping across the field. Pepper had won the battle!
“Oh you are my hero!” Priscilla squealed with excitement. “I sure thought for a moment we were dead meat!” She rolled her pea sized eyes at Pepper to let him know she was very pleased with his performance and the two went on their merry way. “It’s so nice to be in love and I’m so glad we are together. Come what may we will deal with it together!” She rubbed Pepper’s cheek softly. “Life is good!”
They romped through the fields collecting things for their burrow. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Happiness filled the air and all was quiet in Sycamore Grove.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved.
Question. “What did Pepper do to the dog?”