Who knew porcupines climbed trees? This is the normal response when I take clients to view and photograph porcupines.
Winter and early spring, while trees are naked of their leaves, is an ideal time for spotting tree-dwelling porcupines. They commonly will move into the upper trees to eat and sun themselves. When a porcupine is hungry, they will move to the outermost branches to nibble newly budding twigs. During night hours or bad weather, the porcupine will supplement their diet with fruit and ground plants or shrubs.
Porcupine in Latin means “quill pig,” but when I look at a porcupine’s face, I think “quill monkey.” Porcupines have soft hair mixed with sharp quills all over their body except for their belly, face, and feet. On average, a porcupine has 30,000 quills. A misconception about porcupines is their ability to shoot their quills. The quills stand up when a porcupine feels threatened and detach easily when touched. The quills have barbs at the tips that detach when touched. When a porcupine loses a quill, it grows a new one. Baby porcupines are born with soft quills that harden within an hour. Baby porcupines can start climbing trees within hours of birth. Most babies will set off on their own within a few months of birth.
If you encounter a porcupine in the wild, don’t worry. As long as you don’t approach or touch them, they will leave you alone. The most likely victim of porcupines is the family dog that gets a nose full of quills.
The next time you’re walking among the trees, take a moment and look up. You might just see a bound-up ball of quills, nested in the highest branches.
I love photography, but a close second would be my passion for cooking. I love cooking with fresh ingredients and nothing is fresher than straight from the garden. A simple dish and one of my favorites is cherry tomato pasta. Simple ingredients: extra-virgin olive oil, onions, garlic, crushed red pepper, basil, parmesan cheese, and the cherry tomatoes.
It was another hot summer day in western Colorado. I had my mindset on cherry tomato pasta, but the garden first needed some attention. There was silence this summer evening. The breeze was soft and gentle. The warmth of the sun flickering in and out of the aspen trees. Songbirds, each with a distinctive song, watched my every move. A hummingbird darts to and fro from flower to feeder and back again.
With the garden attended to my mind drifted back to thoughts of pasta goodness. I moved through the garden collecting my ingredients; a bulb of garlic, a few onions, and a couple of basil leaves. My final ingredient was in sight. This cherry tomato plant was robust and thick except for a few vines that escaped the trellis support. As I moved closer to the plant the sun dipped below the fence and filled the backyard with a lovely golden glow. Light has several basic properties that can fundamentally influence any scene. As a photographer, you live for these moments when all the properties of light (intensity, color, quality, and direction) come together. This all happened with this one tomato vine. I hurried into the house and grabbed a camera hoping I would not miss this beautiful light.
Looking at this picture you can feel the simple elegance. Photography for me is about a special moment and a memory. When I look at this picture I first think of pasta, but then it brings me deeper. I close my eyes and imagine the smell of my mother’s homemade sauce cooking on the stove. All the great memories of the hours spent around the table talking, laughing and being together with friends and family.
I hope this photograph takes you to a special memory as it does for me.