It started off as a boring day. I had organized a class trip which I ended up cancelling due to freezing rain; it was a nasty morning to be driving the lesser maintained side roads. So I took the students out to the back woods behind the campus to do their ecological land classification assignment. It's a mundane woodlot where usually not much happens. But today proved to be different. We witnessed a male gosehawk take down an unsuspecting ruffed-grouse; a red tail hawk attacked a red squirrel (but missed), a curious fox tracked the group for the first half-hour, took a poop a few meters away from us, then ran away; and signs of an early spring were seen everywhere we went: cedar waxwings were finishing off the last of the buckthorn berries, chick-a-dees began marking their territory with vibrant bird song, a skunk wandered out of its den, and a porcupine waddled up top a cedar tree. Cool stuff, especially for a day that seemed quite dull at first.

All twenty of us took some time out to gather around the tree and gawk up at the porcupine, and at first he didn't seem to mind the intrusion. The students loved it as well. None of them had ever seen one before. But soon enough the animal started growing anxious of our whereabouts, and began showing signs of aggression, which by the way is not what you'd think from a porcupine. The students thought they were safe, standing well below the creature sitting in the tree. After all, they were only concerned over the porcupine's quills, which from our distance wouldn't be much of an issue. But I knew better. I warned them that if they didn't quickly move away from the tree, that the porcupine would urinate on them. That's right — pee directly on their heads while perched safely up its canopy.

Each student took heed of my advice and moved away from the tree, all except for one. Yes, there's always one student who just doesn't listen; one who thinks they know more then the rest of us; one that is blinded by arrogance and refuses to believe that he is the problem, not everyone else around him; one that needs a reminder now and then that the instructor may know a little more then himself; one that refuses to believe that life experience is sometimes the best experience of all. And yes, it was that particular student that refused to leave the porcupine alone. He looked up, called out a teasing remark to the animal perched above him, and in return got his face sprayed with porcupine urine, which by the way has a smell quite similar to that of a wet goat.

What a fantastic day I had. Life is full of unsuspecting surprises. I can hardly wait until tomorrow's class. It's an exam on animal scatology — the future looks promising.

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