Midday, driving from here to there, a fox runs across a field towards me, its jaws clamped around what appears to be a yearling groundhog. I immediately slow my Subaru. The fox runs quickly, darting across the road. I pull over and jump out, watching the fox run along the shoulder. It’s backwoods Vermont, and no one’s around but me and this fox intent on carrying home its slain prey.
Surely the fox knows the road is empty of humans but for me, and I am no threat. Running, running, the fox disappears into the hayfield. In no great rush, I admire the lake through the trees. It may rain, or not. The hazy swimming weather has been usurped by cold, by the strange smoke from the Canadian wildfires so far from us. Here, this midday, it’s just me and the fox and the groundhog turning doubtlessly into fox kits.
Eventually, a pickup appears and stops. The driver’s an acquaintance, and he rolls down the window and asks what’s up. I lean against the door. He and I grouse for a bit about town business and human chaos. When he’s gone, I linger just a little longer, remembering the rushing fox, those moments of human and wild.
“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you…”— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince