The Mast-Head: Living With Leo

Eating is what Leo does best

   Leo the pig ate my sunflower seedlings on Monday. It was my own fault, having left the flat, in which they had germinated and begun to reach for the air, at swine’s-eye level on the patio. Ellis, our 3-year-old junior farmer, and I had planted them about a week earlier and been watering them daily, waiting for the little green heads to peek out of the soil.
    The seeds had come from a packet handed out by people on the East End Community Organic Farm’s float in the East Hampton Santa parade back in December. I had stuck two of the small translucent envelopes in the center console of my truck, discovering them only recently when I was digging around for coffee money.
    Planting something as relatively bulky as a sunflower seed was perfect for Ellis’s developing dexterity. The work went easily, and he was excited that the “babies,” as he called them, had begun to show.
    Leo was excited, too. Eating is what Leo does best, followed closely by sleeping. Until recently, when he wanted to be fed, he would nudge the ankles of whoever was in the kitchen; a few short blasts with a water pistol more or less broke him of the habit.
    Recently, Leo has been grazing in the yard from morning until his midday nap. In the last week or so, the huge bloom of pine-tree pollen that has fallen over everything has left him with a fluorescent snout. Sometimes, when he comes into the house now for a drink of water, a tassel of grass jauntily hangs from his jaw. It is indeed a pig’s life.
    As I have noted before, we have almost lost him twice. A young man my wife, Lisa, met recently told her he had seen him trotting along Cranberry Hole Road during his most recent escape. At 20 pounds and a dingy pink, he seems an unlikely target for a hawk; a passing vehicle would be another story.
    Lisa, still vexed that Leo will not be the 10-pound micro-pig she had been promised, still vows to send him back to his breeder. I’ve grown to like the little devil. So what if he eats the sunflowers? Ellis and I can always plant more.