I spend a lot of time on here bitching about work. I guess that's to be expected, but I'm as certain as a fart in church that it gets old for you, my handful of readers. Plus, here of late I've been so busy WITH work that I haven't had the desire or time to post anything, even some bitching. So, something new.
Very early Saturday morning, while driving (I won't tell you I was driving to work, that'd spoil the ambience) I was given something to see. Something that I took to heart, something that I won't forget for a very long time.
Those of you who are religious would say that it was God-given. Those of you who are spiritual might say that it was karma. And the hunters amongst you would say something stupid about having a rifle ready, but that's just you. Me, I'm not religious, and spiritual I might be but not that much. My father was the hunter of the family, I never got that bug, but he was never so crass as to carry a rifle with him at all times, just in case wild game showed it's face. Me, I called it 'langniappe.' A little something extra, an unexpected bonus that makes you smile.
It was early Saturday morning, the sun was still blinking sleep out of it's eyes, and I was driving along the little curvy stretch of bayou that I like most on my morning ride. On my right is a big cow pasture. The grass is green, tall and thick, interspersed with huge round bales of hay slouching in the dawn, and oak trees spread their arms over the whole, here and there. It's filled with big black cows, solid black from horn to hoof, and early in the morning when the fog is thick it dampens their coats so that they look like they've just been polished. I think, on mornings like that one, that if you were quick enough you could catch sight of the bootblack, his cap jauntily askew, putting the finishing touches on a shining flank, eagerly awaiting a fat tip.
On the right is the bayou. All the rain here of late has it stretching for it's upper banks, and the winter has laid bare all the trees, so the water is visible all along it's length, where the road hugs it's side. Sometimes there's an early-rising bird, a blue heron or a white egret wading along the shallows, hoping for fresh fish, or the vee wake of a beaver or nutria swimming up the current, a furry salmon headed for better times. Sometimes the fog lies thick and close along it's surface, a white blanket hiding the red-brown water, but even when none of that happens it's still got that sweet alure that all moving water has.
I wasn't driving particularly fast, I never do in my truck. And as usual, I had my eyes open, watching for anything. Motorcycle training. That's why I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, away off in the green. A flash of dusky orange, moving fast. It was well in front of me so I didn't have to brake, and as the fox leaped and bounded across that green I could truly enjoy the cat-like grace it displayed. It effortlessly cleared the grass time and again, trying to keep it's head high over the damp srands, dove under the cattle fence with a surety that told me he had done it many times, and sprinted across the road.
His red wasn't the crimson of a Disney cartoon fox, but the dusky red of old leaves, the bronze-orange of damp clay on a bayou bank. His tail was puffed up thick and proud, sailing behind him like the exclamation point following the joyous shout of his existence. The last quarter of his tail was black, as though he was the subject of some old Indian parable about a fox who had stood with his back to a campfire until it scorched, and it was the last I saw of him as he dove into the thicket alongside the bayou bank. He was gone from my life as quickly as he had arrived, in a flash of orange and black, and look though I might I couldn't spot him.
I carry him still. In my mind he's forever dashing across that field, moving between the slow black bulks like a bird flying between trees, dancing across the road in front of me without ever touching foot to the pavement. A thing of Nature, pure and free, unfettered by concerns of paycheck or credit card payment. A reminder that we're no more than that fox, and no less, the only difference being a few more pounds of grey meat behind our eyes. I see him still, dancing with sure and unconscious grace.
A pure expression of Life.