Prickly pear-eaters (as opposed to prickly-pear eaters)

Every night they come. The prickly, pear-eating porcupines. There are four of them–possibly a family. They hang out in the trees just beyond our property during the daytime, and venture forth after sunset. When the moon is full, you can see their dark rounded shapes under the pear tree, munching the pears.

My dog is fascinated. A hunter by breed, she watches the nightly dinner party silently, desperate to stalk them. A recent encounter proved rather expensive, so I keep her tethered, only letting her watch from a distance.

Merriam-Webster defines porcupine as: any of various relatively large slow-moving, chiefly herbivorous rodents having sharp erectile spines mingled with the hair and constituting an Old World terrestrial family (Hystricidae) and a New World chiefly arboreal family (Erethizontidae)

Again according to M-W, the origin and etymology of the word porcupine is: Middle English porke despyne, from Middle French porc espin, from Old Italian porcospino, from Latin porcus pig + spinaspine, prickle. In other words, a porcupine is a prickly pig. Like pigs, they are also purportedly delicious, though I have never had occasion to eat one.

At the moment my heart is very conflicted over these creatures. On the one hand I find them to be rather cute. When they look at me with their shiny round black eyes, they remind me of the guinea pigs I had as pets while growing up. And if you don’t get too close, they also seem pretty harmless–and much less of a nuisance to humans than say, woodchucks or skunks. The couple of times I have seen a baby one up really close, I had a very strong urge to reach up into the tree and take it home.

But unfortunately these creatures can be destructive. Very, VERY destructive. On my property alone they have already destroyed a peach tree, a plum tree, a cherry tree and several pine trees, all of which my husband and I planted. They climb up into the boughs and chew on the tender new growth, leaving the broken branches strewn about on the ground below. Like beavers, their front teeth never stop growing, so they have to wear them down by gnawing–on wood. Their favorite place to do this is in my barn, where a once-three-legged stool is now a one-legged stool, apple baskets look like sieves, and wooden-handled gardening implements are the perfect height for oompah-loompahs. And don’t even get me started on the porcupine poop. Suffice it to say, porcupines are not a farmer’s best friend.

So my husband has engaged another neighborly farmer (a Mainer of course) to trap the beasts, and dispose of them. On the one hand I will be glad to be free of these unwelcome guests; but on the other, I will feel guilty, and more than a little remorseful, over having indirectly caused their demise. Because the only thing they are guilty of is doing what nature intended for them to do. We can hardly say the same of humans.

So every night when I see them, I say, “Run away! Run away little porcupines! Run to safety before its too late!” For my own sake, I hope they are listening, so that when the farmer comes with his traps and his gun they will be nowhere to be found.

The halcyon days of August

Summer has turned a corner. Evenings are suddenly cooler, and a nighttime chorus of crickets and grasshoppers drowns out the sound of the lumber mill. Unripe pears are dropping off my pear tree, luring fat porcupines from the woods for their daily meal. The deer are already nibbling at the young apple tree in the back yard, as their diet switches over from grass to twigs and bark.

How do bears know when to start fattening up for winter? Or Canada geese know when to fly south? During summers when I have lived out in the country I have become accustomed to noticing nature’s many timekeepers–the changing colors of roadside wildflowers, the ripening in succession of rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries and grapes, and the morphing of tadpoles into frogs.

At other times of the year I rely on the changing constellations to mark the seasons, looking for Orion to make his appearance above the horizon in late fall, and watching him disappear in late spring.

As August’s days begin to grow noticeably shorter, I take the time to appreciate them even more, so that the memory of them will warm me in the long dark nights ahead.

Heart is where the home is.

I walked into the house this evening after a 6-hour drive and instantly felt like I was “home.” I cannot describe the feeling other than to say my heart grew inside my chest.

I do not live here now, at least, not very much–only for a few weeks in the summer, but it is the first home my husband and I made together–the place where my first two children were conceived and my first child was born. When you open the front door and step inside after a long, damp winter, it has its own di-“stink”-tive smell: a combination of wood smoke, mouse droppings, and mildew.

It is where I orchestrated elaborate summer birthday parties, picked apples for making cider, and showed my two youngest the fairy tents sparkling with morning dew. It has the little gas stove where I cooked hundreds of meals, and the stone fireplace made from rocks my husband and I hauled from the field in his old truck.

It is where, one New Year’s Day, when it was 20 below zero with the wind chill, the two of us said our vows to each other in front of family, a couple of friends, and our dog.

We have lived in many homes since, nine to be exact, but your first home is like your first love, you move on to others, but that first one holds a special place in your heart forever.


A New Beginning

Day One: Every day, every moment, is a new beginning. Take today, for instance. Today I chose to start this blog. I chose a name for it–Heart Centered Being. Today I made a pledge to myself that every choice I make starting today, no matter how small or how big, will come from my heart center. If I am riding my three-wheeled bike along the sidewalk, and I see a piece of trash, I will pick it up and put it in my basket. That is a gift I can give to the earth, to myself, and to others who travel that same path. Small choices add up. Open up your heart, center your being, and choose to make every moment a new beginning. Namaste.

The gift of a heart

I attended a wedding today. The groom had been married briefly before, to someone he had known since high school, but the union had ended in divorce. Today he was marrying the love of his life. When the couple said their vows to each other, they each said–“I give you my heart.”

What does it meant to give someone your heart?

Before going to the wedding I heard an amazing true story. Last December, former MLB baseball player and Hall of Famer Rod Carew suffered a severe heart attack on the golf course. Doctors said the 71-year-old would not live without a donated heart and kidney. He was put at the top of the transplant recipient list. Meanwhile, a healthy 29-year-old NFL football player named Konrad Reuland was in the best shape of his life. While working out he suffered a brain aneurism and died after two weeks in a coma. Konrad’s heart now beats in Rod’s chest, and the two families, the Reulands and Carews, are inextricably linked. What makes this story so unusual is that Konrad once met Mr. Carew at a youth basketball game. There are many more coincidences surrounding their eventual organ donor/recipient connection, which you can read about here:

The heart is the center of our physical being. It allows us to live by pumping blood through our bodies. But is is also the center of our metaphysical being. It allows us to love by sending and receiving heart-centered energy. I was privileged to witness both of these miracles in the same day: two hearts becoming one, and one heart bringing together two families. In the former instance, someone got a second chance at love. In the latter instance, someone got a second chance at life. Here’s to new hearts and second chances!