I went for a hike at the Mohonk Preserve with my friends Raedel and Mary Grace. The Mohonk Preserve is in the Shawangunk Mountains or Gunks, as they are affectionately called around here. The Gunks are part of the long ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, known early on for logging and mining but now known mainly for recreation, most notably for rock climbing and hiking. As with many areas like this the trails vary in difficulty. We were on an a fairly easy trail, a good walk and conversation being our intent. It was a perfect morning for it. As we neared the end of our hike we rounded a bend and Mary Grace, who was in the lead, almost stepped on a porcupine.
I had never seen a porcupine outside of a zoo and it was all I could do to get out my phone and start snapping pictures. Although the porcupine was clearly moving away from me it wasn't running and I was able to get some decent shots. I doubt it was worried about me because once it got to an overgrown area it stopped to grab and eat a bunch of leaves. I thought it was very beautiful. I did wonder about those quills though. Do they shoot them in self-defense? Later I looked it up and found that porcupines do not shoot their quills but will charge and impale a predator with multiple barbs.
Here is my portrayal of the porcupine we saw, munching in the foreground and then calmly retreating. It really was an attractive animal with many many quills that almost looked soft. Almost. I've added the orange day lilies that line the roads here in the summer.
The painting is available in my shop here:
And prints of the image are available here:
Here's a back-to-school special: 20% off any purchase, good until September 3rd: