It all started in the mid-80's. I was working in New York, missing my California home. A friend had just opened a chic, trendy animal collectible shop in chic, trendy SoHo. Stuffed animals of every stripe were there. "And what animals do you collect?" my enthusiastic friend asked. Actually, I didn't collect any stuffed animals, but I felt obligated to purchase something from her. Not teddy bears. Too predictable. Same with kittycats. Nothing disgusting like an armadillo. And most important, I didn't want something that was so popular that I would feel obligated to be in the shop every week buying another panda or koala for my collection. "Hedgehogs," I blurted out. "I collect hedgehogs." I don't know where that came from because I don't ever recall seeing a hedgehog and I had absolutely no idea what they looked like. My friend looked perplexed for a moment, then a huge smile eruped. "We have a hedgehog, but only one." Perfect, I thought. She came out with a critter that kind of resembled a small possum. "Look at his perfect little porcelain nails," my friend proclaimed. "How adorable," I mumbled. And so I had a hedgehog. One hedgehog. I certainly thought that was the end of it. But, of course, that was not to be. Word got out that I "collected" hedgehogs. Since when does one hedgehog constitute a collection? Every birthday and Christmas thereafter, people have gifted me with hedgehogs: stuffed ones, plaster of paris ones, crystal ones, lead ones. I even have a suede purse shaped like a hedgehog, and sometimes, just to be contrary, I actually wear it! Just recently we moved to Oregon, and for one moment, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to dump the hedgehog collection. But when it came right down to it, I couldn't do it. So, after all these years, of a pretend-collection, it occurs to me that I really do have a hedgehog collection and I'm darned proud of it.