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Summary: People can be a lot like porcupines, but even porcupines can learn to dance, literally and figuratively. Christians can learn from these rodent friends. Article from ethoughts weekly www.wit4life.com.

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I came across some information about a solitary little rodent and I thought it was an excellent allegory for humankind. Who am I to snub such a consummate metaphor? As you may have gathered by now, if metaphors were cholesterol you, my readers would all be dead by now. Being that as it may be, see if you find some of this animal information amusing if not helpful.

The woodland creature known as the porcupine weighs 15-20 pounds. This primarily nocturnal animal gets its name from the Latin word for pig and the French word for thorn. These “prickly pigs” have 30,000 quills each are a mass of tiny overlapping barbs. When threatened these rodents first try to escape and if that doesn’t work---it tucks its vulnerable little head, turn its back and Whamo! When touched the quills dislodge into an attackers warm flesh and the barbs on the quills flare out working against the muscle to embed deeper into the flesh. Though not poisonous, the quills may kill. Animals with quills in the mouth can die of starvation or from a subsequent infection. The 1 2.5 inch thorns have been found in everything from polar bears to trout fish.

Porcupines are not known to be lovable or amiable. They don’t hang out in colonies like other rodents do. They detached from their mother and are self-sufficient just a few months after birth. It’s a small wonder that their peculiarities don’t render them extinct. In fact they populate North American forest areas rather well, some stabs and scratches along the way notwithstanding.

I think we all may have some porcupine tendencies. The solitary or disagreeable parts of us; the prickly flaws in our personality; and the thorny words or actions that can injure others are all things that make supposed social beings like humans difficult to endure. My husband will tell you I probably have more than just 30,000 spurs to contend with, especially when I’m tired. He’d be right.

How do porcupines survive and even thrive? How do they get past all the prickliness and go on? Well, actually they learn to dance. Seriously. They do a kind of two step to get along and we could all learn a lesson here. Called a “love dance” by some, porcupines will waddle on their hind feet to engender a better situation during mating. When disposed, they nuzzle noses and place their front paws on each other’s shoulders and sort of waltz a little. Each flattens their quills so to not hurt the other. They make it work. In wintertime a small group may even cluster together for warmth in what is termed a prickle. So there you have it, even the unlikely scenarios of intimacy, mating and fellowship can and do occur with such spiny a species.

Maybe there are a few porcupines in your life that have stuck their prickles on you. Probably you’ve jabbed your spikes into someone too. We all have quills, but like the porcupine we can learn to dance. We can learn to flatten our quills and make it work. Humans are funny in that we want or need in some way to be social creatures and all the while we can be ill tempered, malicious or hurtful. Speaking as the Captain of the Porcupines, I find this to be true regularly in others and in myself.

This week, let us try a little Porcupine Mambo and flatten our quills. We can all take a lesson from the Pricklypigs.

Lisa DeLay, writer and founder www.wit4life.com

©2005


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