It was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, without the stinging heat that preceded today, tall green trees providing some lovely shade. The forest was quiet, no wind to rustle the leaves, and the wildlife stopped their hustling and bustling and crickets and chirps when I blundered by. Nevertheless, I felt at peace. And out of breath. It was in that moment, that I plopped myself down on a fallen tree, that I saw it.
It stared at me from the other side of the log. “Oh, hello there!” The hedgehog cocked its head, then seemed to give a tiny nod. I sighed a happy sigh and stared at the branches above my head. “So quiet isn’t it?” The hedgehog gave what I could only describe as a snort. I looked at it. “You don’t agree?” It was a rhetorical question. I didn’t expect an answer, it was a hedgehog after all. So imagine my surprise when it shook its head very deliberately.
I stared at it, mouth agape and eyes bulging. “You can understand me?” I must have looked like a fool, because it let out a delighted giggle. Then it nodded. “Can you speak too?” It nodded again. “Wow. I never met a speaking hedgehog before.” It smiled.
“So you don’t think it’s quiet?” Headshake. If it really could speak, it was a hedgehog of little words. “Are you alone here?” Another shake. It turned its head and indicated a pile of leaves at the bottom of a nearby oak. I could see some shapes move in there when I looked closely. The hedgehog turned its head back to me. “Party.” It whispered in a tiny, shy voice. “Ah.” I looked again and thought I could see a couple of faces peeking out of the leaves. “And you came in search of some alone time?” Because that was exactly the same I had done. It nodded.
It scurried out of the ferns and sat next to me. Minutes passed in silence. I don’t know how much time we spend, sitting quietly on that log, but the sun had started to set when I heard my name called out from outside the woods. I looked at the hedgehog. “I have to go.” It nodded. “It was nice meeting you.” It nodded again. It turned around to follow my noisy process back to the party I fled from. I looked back once.
It sat in the place where I left it, a tiny smile on its face. Then it lifted its paw, hopped of its perch and disappeared in the undergrowth. A small breeze brought me its parting words. It whispered around my head, happiness in the small voice. “Goodbye, my friend.”
This hedgehog is part of my Woodland life series, painted with oil paint on hardwood panel, still showing that beautiful woodgrain along the edges.
Oil on plywood
40cm x 30cm (15.7" x 11.8")
Hanging hardware not included.
Colours may vary from monitor to monitor due to individual settings and limitations in digital photography – I made every effort to come as close to actual colours in the original piece as possible.