I was sitting on a bench at the local Audubon center
when a red fox approached me. He was pretending to
not be interested in me from about ten feet away
and I was pretending not to be interested in him. I went
on gazing at the tree line. He came up alongside the
bench and seemed to gaze out like I was. The thought
crossed my mind that he either might be really hungry,
someone’s escaped pet, have rabies, or be protecting a
den nearby. But my desire for a special kind of kinship
with nature won out. I patted a spot on the bench.
The fox jumped up and dropped playfully on my lap,
looking back up into my eyes. “I knew you wanted to
be my friend,” I said. “Let me take you on a journey,”
he said. “A journey it is,” I said. I stood and awaited
my new companion. “Follow me,” he said. I followed
him through the field and some woods nearby,
and then through another field, and across a stream
or two. “Where are you taking me?” I said. “To the place
where trees speak,” he said. “Let’s do it then,” I said.
A few years later we approached a circle of white trees
somewhere on the other side of the Pacific. “We made it,”
I said. “It took long enough,” the fox said. “I must leave
you now. Goodbye.” The fox trotted away and seemed to
evaporate off the tips of the tall grasses. I missed my friend.
But I did not understand why he left so coldly. I tried to
not think about it and approached one of the talking, white
trees. “Excuse me, I was guided here by a fox who told me
you could speak, and that this was a journey.” I said.
“Your little friend did you right,” a tree said. “Yeah, but
then he just gets up and leaves like bringing me here
was all he was ever supposed to do. For years we’ve gotten
to know each other. What kind of a friend abandons you
like that?” I said. “The kind that doesn’t want to hold you
back and that truly loves you,” the tree said. “Well then love
sucks,” I said. “Sometimes,” it said. “All the time,” I said.