A Tangle of Bright Moments: To Catch Sight of a Wild Porcupine

“I am going to the USA to catch sight of a wild porcupine and to give some lectures.” ― Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921)


Apparently Freud made this statement of twin goals amongst friends, continuing “‘Whenever you have some large objective in mind, it’s always good to identify a secondary, less demanding goal on which to focus your attentions in order to detract from the anxiety associated with the search for the true grail.’ Thereafter, his disciple Ernst Jones reported, ‘The phrase, “to find one’s porcupine,” became a recognized saying in our circle.’” Once in America, he, and Carl Jung, were taken to a spot — a “long and grueling” hike — where a Erethizon dorsatum was known to nest, only to find a dead and decomposing specimen.


We didn’t have the goal of seeing a wild porcupine when we walked a New Hampshire trail this mid-March (high temp 42F, low temp 13F), but we did anyway! I noticed the scattering of hemlock branches on the ground in one spot and looked up to see if the porcupine, usually responsible for chomping on the buds and branches, was still aloft, and lo and behold, there sat the critter. S/he was far away up the tree and hard both to see and photograph. We stood for 15 minutes or so just admiring.

clues that a porcupine had been here: a scattering of hemlock tree twigs and branches
a branch with hemlock cones, which are small
see the porcupine?
best I could do with my camera

More on porcupines and hemlocks.


As usual, birch bark caught my eye.


Also this tree stand that local hunters must use.



Some landscapes, including the the trail with arched birches, and lined with hemlocks; and the pond covered in ice and snow.


A mullein!


Just admired the colours and textures.


Looking around to see what else there was to be seen. It must have felt warm to me, because I’m not wearing my gloves.



This is one in a series of posts revisiting field trips taken from January to June 2019, as described here.

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