Monday, February 02, 2009

Winter pieces (IV)

It had snowed the morning before, six inches of soft powder, then after an afternoon of brilliant sun the temperature had dropped overnight enough to freeze the surface once again, leaving an inch-thick plate of harder snow to lie upon the rest. He had parked his car on the shoulder of the two-lane road, and as he stepped away from the pavement and climbed over the weathered stone wall the top layer broke into shards beneath his feet with a noise like shattering china.

Even so he surprised the fox. It stood in a little clearing where the orchard met the woods, no more than twenty feet away, one paw raised, its eyes fixed upon him as he himself came to rest. They eyed each other neutrally, then, after a moment, the fox sat, its gaze still on him. Their bearings were set to intersect when they resumed, if neither turned, but each seemed unwilling either to step forward or to change their course. The stillness of the morning surrounded them, without a hint of wind.

Finally the fox stood and slipped off, veering just a bit to skirt the outer row of the barren pear trees, moving quickly, not in fear but as if it needed to make up for lost time.

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