This is how I’m feeling today.
Granted I am not a hedgehog. Nor do I have a broken arm, or foot or anything.
But I am sick with the cough and down with the spirits, and though I’m limping along, I just feel a little…. prickly.
It’s funny… hedgehogs are really very soft. The tame ones love to be petted, and their bristles flex and bend under your hands. Their little wet snouts are so downy soft. Even their scrabbly little feet are all pink plush softness on the other side.
It’s only when you hear that wheezy little “puhhhhffz, puhhhffz,” noise that you need to handle them with care. That’s the warning signal before the bristles raise to stand on end. Roughly translated, “puhhhfzz, puhhhffz” means “I’m scared” or “I’m startled,” or sometimes “I just don’t want to be touched right now, thanks, I’m very busy and a little highly strung, so would you please… just… not?”
I totally get that.
Now, you wouldn’t know it unless you’ve known me a long time, but hedgehogs have a long-standing and very special place in my heart.
Of course, it began with Beatrix Potter and her Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.
You remember Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle—the washer-woman with brown and wrinkled hands, whose “nose went sniffle, sniffle, snuffle, and her eyes went twinkle, twinkle.” She washed and ironed coats for mice and squirrels, fleece jackets for sheep, stockings for hens, and a pocket-handkin for a forgetful little girl named Lucie.
Then we had the neighbors who decided to get a hedgehog as a pet. And because they were the neighbors who we essentially shared a living room with, what with all the backs-and-forths, it was almost like we had a pet hedgehog too. Cinnamon.
Cinnamon liked Mom the best in our family. Especially when he could wiggle his way between her blouse buttons and take up residence in the coziest spot in the house! And believe me, a squirmy little thing covered with prickles pretty much gets to go where he likes, for as long as he likes, and you just do your best not to startle him while he’s there.
But once the puffing starts… look out!
Happily, re-reading a little Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and thinking on our sweet little almost-pet Cinnamon has done a bit to cheer me up now, so I guess I’m ready to get on with the day.
In the meantime, maybe just try not to startle me today…. and please don’t mind the occasional puff.