I’ve never written about the property adjacent to ours. It fails the “simple, true, beautiful,” criteria and then some. There is a red house, but no one lives there. The owner keeps the six feet of driveway between the gate and the road plowed. Every so often he stops by with another load of garbage, puts it on his property and leaves. Microwaves, laundry baskets, plastic buckets, green tubs, garbage bags, and various other pieces of junk cover what was at some point, someone’s lawn and driveway. Stray cats go there and in the spring crocuses dare to peek around the edges, but it is as ugly as a lifetime of holding on to worthless things.
The fact that I have to pass it in order to arrive at my preferred walk past the cemetery and into the woods irritates me. I look straight ahead or imagine the red house as it might have been when it was a home. I push down the need to sigh and mutter to myself about townships and taxes and dump trucks. Returning from my walk yesterday I had my eye on a squirrel. Last year there was a really strange one that would run the fence six feet away from me, then leap from tree to tree. One day in particular he must have gone on fifty feet or so until if felt like we were walking together. I wondered if among his fellow squirrels he was viewed as uncannily bright or mentally ill. Yesterday’s squirrel stayed with me for a while and I found myself wondering if it was the same squirrel. I lost him just before I got to the garbage gateway. I could still hear him talking and strained to find him with my eyes.
Which is when I saw this.
I’ve seen porcupines up in trees chewing leaves in the spring, but not in the winter until now. I’m not sure where I think they should be, but I took it as a gift and went to get my camera. By the time I got back, the closer one was almost to the ground. I stood there staring and he began his sloth like ascent up again.
But his face was even better.
I took at least ten pictures which mostly look the same but I couldn’t help myself. I stood at garbage gate delighted – with the wonder of porcupines and redemption and doing what you do without worrying about where you do it.
Imagine beauty, hunkered down in trees above a sea of refuse, mounds upon mounds of it . . . yet there it was. Wild and free, sitting above me, ambling through the branches. Even in junkyards, life comes, rises above, and is.