Commentator Sy Montgomery pays tribute to her beloved pet pig, Christopher Hogwood.
MONTGOMERY: I have an embarrassing, and you might say oxymoronic, dilemma. I have a picky pig.
MONTGOMERY: Meet Christopher Hogwood, named in honor of the famous conductor.
CURWOOD: That’s Living on Earth commentator Sy Montgomery introducing us to her pig, Christopher Hogwood, a number of years a ago. Sadly, Sy’s beloved pet died recently and this is her tribute to him.
MONTGOMERY: First frost: to other people, it meant the season of fall color, or time to cut firewood, or go back to school. For us, first frost meant that the cold-damaged produce of all the gardens in Hancock, New Hampshire came rolling towards our pig sty.
Zucchini the size of baseball bats. Injured cucumbers. Shriveling pole beans. Frostbitten tomatoes. It appealed to that Yankee sense of thrift. “I don’t have to throw this away—I can give it to a pig!” And for folks all around town, our pig, Christopher Hogwood offered dinner and a show.
Watching a 750 pound hog enjoy his food is a wondrous spectacle. His greedy joy was glorious to witness. After eating every last scrap, he would lay down in the autumn sun to digest the harvest. Everyone in attendance could then touch his soft ears. We would rub his tight pink belly, and he would grunt contentedly in a swill-sodden swoon.
But this year, all those frostbitten vegetables go to the compost pile. Christopher Hogwood died in his sleep one night in May. He was 14 years old. That’s very old for a pig. How long do pigs live? Usually six months. That’s when most people think pigs should be slaughtered. But Christopher Hogwood had a different destiny. He lived with a vegetarian and a Jew.
Chris had a wide constituency. At almost every election he got some of the write-in votes. Hey, he weighed 750 pounds—he had true “gravitas.” He also sometimes appeared in the police log: Loose Pig. Our cop, Ed Caughlin—for 11 years he was our only full timer—used to carry apples in the cruiser in case Chris got out again—which he invariably did.
Everyone knew Christopher. His sty was a local destination. People brought their kids to see him. People brought their grandchildren. And they brought their slops. Here in our little corner of New Hampshire, Christopher’s death was front-page news. It was the lead story on the state page in the larger daily in Concord. Even the original Christopher Hogwood, the conductor, put a link to our Christopher’s obit on his web page.
When folks heard the news, they sent us so many flowers we filled every vase and started filling up the pickle jars. We got sympathy cards and emails literally from around the world. People knew him who hadn’t met him because of the Christmas cards we sent out every year, showing him fatter and happier.
What was it about him that touched people so? Christopher knew how to relish the juicy savor of this abundant, sweet, green world. That was a great thing for us all to witness, and to remember. And he showed us the uplifting truth that a great soul can appear at any time--in any creature.
CURWOOD: Sy Montgomery lives in New Hampshire and is a frequent contributor to Living on Earth.
[MUSIC: Angelo Badalamenti “Laura’s Theme” MOVIE KILLERS (Telstar – 1996)]