This past weekend marked my last class at Snow Farm for the season.
I had been told the teacher was one of the best, and was really excited to begin. Saturday morning on the way to class, still shaky from first-day jitter -nightmares and the usual social anxieties, my peaceful drive from Frog Hollow on the prettiest road through the rolling hills was marred by a sadly familiar and awful sight up ahead. My stomach fell, I pulled over past the little porcupine laying on the shoulder of the road.
Just a baby, a juvenile not quite fully quilled yet.
These same fascinating creatures I have come to love ~ watching families return to their favorite tree every year here at Frog Hollow (...until Grady got too close one day and got a face full of quills from mom, they never returned.)
Had also been drawn in to the recent sweet story of injured rescue Samantha, her newborn baby Sami, and adopted orphan Poppy at Newhouse Wildlife Rescue of Chelmsford and the strong bond formed between them. Thousands of us following along on facebook, so involved and invested in their lives. When Poppy had grown strong and was ready to be released back into her home in Wild world, we grieved for the separation but were grateful this little life had been given a second chance. It was time to be free.
This story of hardship and connection still fresh in my mind and heart.
(trigger warning: animal suffering)
I walked up to the body on the shoulder of the dirt road. I had needed to see if there was still life, still Hope. They were totally still, as if frozen in motion with one tiny, precious padded back paw sticking out....something about this vulnerable position broke me.
Looked into their face and saw a glimmer of life in the dark brown soulful eye looking back at me. I burst into tears now seeing the blood under their tiny body.
This is where I fail.
This is where I fall into a usual pattern of panic, anguish, and physical pain. An absolute inability to function or make critical decisions.
I got in my car and drove, sobbing.
Pulled over and tried to calm down. I need to do something, I couldn't just drive away. Someone is suffering. Get it together, I tell myself.
Animal Help Now is a wonderful app that helps connect wildlife situations and helpers. It is a priceless resource, still growing and needing help.
Shaking and staring at my phone through tears, the first listing on the app that popped up was a kind woman in the next town over that runs Cummington Wildlife. I knew she mainly focused on birds and rabbits, but I wasn't thinking clearly and called her. (She had helped me through a few scary bird strikes before we put "bird savers" on the two-story windows in our living room.)
She calmed me down a bit and asked for a location so she could come out to try to find them. I drove towards class feeling guilty about dumping this all on her, but overwhelmed with anxiety about being late I felt compelled to get where I was going. Also called my wonderful husband who dropped everything to try to help.
Driving up and down the road not that much later, no one could find him/her.
I would like to believe that they were ok, that they managed to make it.
But my heart tells me otherwise.
Should have stayed with them until help came. Or have been strong enough to help them myself.
Felt sick all day at school, still an emotional wreck. Feeling useless and ashamed...beating myself up for not staying there beside them...
I failed that little helpless, suffering soul.
The class itself was such a help, the teacher Alan Burton Thompson lived up to his lively reputation. He taught with laughter, kindness and wisdom. We made connections in metal, and with each other. One classmate happened to be a wonderful woman named Holly who told us she was an end of life Doula in our introductions. Still deeply anguished, I asked her for advice on keeping calm in the face of suffering, so that I could be of help and not run away from difficult situations. We talked a bit about being vegan, our deep connection to animals and as empaths feeling their pain and having a hard time dealing with all that is happening. All of us on edge and worried about our futures on this Earth.
Not knowing what else to do, I turned my pain into creation and made the class project a tribute to this experience. This precious life.
So grateful for these seemingly random connections that help find our way through life, to make sense of things. To dull the edges of our collective pain through understanding who we are and learning from those more Wise.
Thank you to everyone who is trying to make this world a little Kinder. We will get through this.
Porcupine Amulet Shrine
I came home from the first day of class and researched porcupines in Medieval Art, Woodblock Prints and Illuminated Manuscripts....
The next two days in class ~ design, cutting, filing, hammering, stamping, polishing, riveting and soldering brass.
Back in the workshop at home, working on the shrine.
Found mica, cut rose colored stained glass, gifted acorn embroidery within a beat up old frame I found in a free pile at a tag sale.