This morning I met a fox. It was early: about a quarter after six. I was walking up an old farm lane, trespassing as I always do. Last week, the farmer that owns this land had driven a tractor up the lane, sometime during the day when the ground was thawed. During the recent rains, the ruts that the tractor left had filled with water which this morning had a skim of ice so that with every step the ground crunched and then made a slurping sound as my rubber boots sunk into the unfrozen muck beneath the ice.
The reason the farmer had driven the tractor up the lane was to cut the field. He'd originally intended to graze cattle on the hilltop -- a few years ago he'd stretched an extensive network of barbed wire across and around the field -- but for whatever reason, his cattle haven't been on the hill for more than a year and the field was growing up in russian olive, multiflora rose, and young quaking aspens. With one pass of the tractor's scythe, the farmer had chopped down all of them, along with last year's milkweed and yarrow and goldenrod, shaving the top of the hill into a short stubble.
As I hiked up the farmer's lane this morning, I don't know why I glanced up from the ice crispy, mud luscious trail to the top of the hill in the predawn greyness, with the waning but still more than half-full moon a hand's breadth above the sharply defined horizon. But the moment I looked up, there he was: sleek, as grey as the dawn but moving much faster as he cantered across the field, bright against the sky but black when his outline slid silent across the face of the moon.
When the farm lane crossed the scent trail left by the fox's paws, my dogs tracked the fox but they went the wrong way: heading back to where the animal had come from instead of forward to where he had gone.
Causes Louise Young Supports
articulation of indigenous rights (organization: Cultural Survival)
sustainable, renewable, and independent energy sources