Someone has dug a big burrow beneath one of the large trees down the drive from the small pond. It’s sizable, maybe a foot or so across at the mouth and eight inches high, and tidily built, with the earth packed tight into the slight rise at the lower lip, with walls packed smooth, and the floor free of litter. A large root sweeps gently along the curve of the uphill side, and the cedar towers above, creating a snug and safe shelter. I poked my camera into the opening in hopes that the flash would illuminate a bit more deeply, and a tiny, pointed face of black with white stripes flashed out of the darkness, peering straight at me. I jumped back and looked again. The triangular face had disappeared, but it was unmistakably a badger, which are said to have their largest population in the world here in Idaho. Still, it’s the first badger I’ve encountered. I count myself lucky because that it made such a speedy retreat; they are reputed to be very aggressive, and I had disturbed her in her own home!

The night before, I drove home around 10 p.m., and had just crossed the culvert onto the rise in the drive and there, above me meandering up the drive, was a huge, very lovely porcupine. She waddled–perhaps as fast as her very large body would allow–trying to get away from me, but didn’t move off the drive or manage any speed whatsoever. She really was almost round, dark gray or black with whitish quills and tiny feet tucked well beneath the outside perimeter of her ample girth. When she finally reached the level area beside the pond, she quickened her pace and booked it on into the woods. I bet she slept well after that chase up the hill.

“badger” by megankhines is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Oct. 9, 2011

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