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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Runaway Pig

Air Date: Week of

Chasing an escaped pig was not on commentator Sy Montgomery’s list of ways to while away a sunny late summer afternoon; but when Christopher Hogwood, her 700-pound porcine (POR-sign) companion, decided to bolt his pen, she had to come up with a way to stop him before he reached the highway.


MONTGOMERY: It was one of those achingly beautiful days on the cusp of summer and fall, when the sun pours out golden crickets singing in the goldenrod and the air smells like ripening apples. Unfortunately, I was inside. Working.

CURWOOD: Living on Earth commentator Sy Montgomery.

MONTGOMERY: I work at home, so the worst part was I could have been outside. But there were phone calls and e-mails and deadlines. So I was stuck. Until, that is, the pig escaped.

Actually, he didn't escape. I let him out, which normally takes just a minute. The problem was, he didn't go where he was supposed to. Usually led by food, Christopher Hogwood walks obediently to his rooting grounds, where I leash him to a long tether. On this day, though, he had other plans, and I had a 700-pound pig on the loose.

This is no small problem. A pig of that size on the loose is kind of like having a bulldozer roaming randomly through the neighborhood. Not that he's dangerous, per se. He's a calm pig. He knows I'm a vegetarian and my husband is Jewish. And like the conductor who is his namesake, he's a cultured individual with an appreciation for the finer things in life.
Unfortunately for Chris, the finer things in life sometimes include rooting up the neighbors gardens and prying the clapboards off the house with his nose disc. And in fact, he was heading toward the next door neighbor's manicured lawn. I couldn't stop him. Even though he was plodding at a stately pace, he weighs substantially more than I do, and this fact has not escaped him. All I could do was follow.

Luckily, he decided to root up a portion of our side yard. Then he walked to the side porch and bit off a chunk of the floor. And then, with the top of his nose, swung open a gate I can't lift and entered the pasture. On the other side of the pasture is Route 137, a place I particularly didn't want him to go. If he were to collide with a car, neither would benefit.
The pig started strolling in the direction of the road. I tried to deflect him. I offered him grain. He still wasn't interested. Just as I was about to despair, the solution came to me. On a warm, sunny day like this, all I have to do is rub Christopher's belly and he flops over on his side, grunting blissfully. So, this I did. And then I lay down beside him, beneath an apple tree. We stayed there about an hour together. I watched the clouds and butterflies and the undersides of leaves. I patted his fur as it grew warmer with the sun, and he grunted with pleasure. I hadn't planned on spending an hour that way, but then there are worse ways to spend a gorgeous late summer afternoon than lying with a pig beneath an apple tree.

Some say that happiness lands lightly on you like a butterfly. But
serenity is perhaps another matter, and it may come lumbering toward you. Like a 700- pound pig.

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: Commentator Sy Montgomery and her pig Christopher Hogwood live in Hancock, New Hampshire. It's NPR's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.



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