My first live porcupine, that is.  I have seen a dead one in the road before, and have promised my kids that next time we come across a dead porcupine I’m going to bundle it into the car and take it home to extract some of its spines – which were used by Indians and white settlers to decorate clothing. Tom and Rachel disparaged this idea vigorously. They know that my crafts projects are rather like other people’s UFOs.

Anyhow, I did at last see a porcupine, poised along the road in Hartsville, MA, where I had stopped en route to dinner with Bill McNeill. And why was I there? To check the progress of the elderflowers along one of the dirt roads because we have run out of the elderflower cordial I generally keep a supply of. (Fortunately, my food-related projects are both more likely to come to fruition and get far more encouragement from family and friends.) He or she stood for a bit by the edge of the road, looking at me quite contemptuously, while I snapped this fuzzy photo.