I came out to my cabin with binoculars, hoping to catch sight of the fox which Faith saw Friday trotting across the ice glazed pond. I arrived at the window that day only in time to see its bushy white tail switch through the thicket, swatches of its russet coat glimpsed through tree trunks as it disappeared into the woods behind our property. I don’t know if this is the same fox I saw four years ago during sabbatical, or one of its offspring–probably the latter, since nature exists dangerously and tenuously, it seems. But today there is no movement at all except for the slow swaying of slender trunks in the ravine, the occasional flight of a bird high in branches. No squirrels scurry around trunks, no chipmunks skitter through fallen leaves. Woodpeckers are not drumming on bark, no deer step sure footedly on the ravine slope. Today, no movement exists to trace, to follow to its source. All is still, an unmoving landscape of brown hues.
I’m okay with this, although I must admit I’d rather follow the tracks of a fox. A fox is wild strangeness, an encounter with otherness that makes my heart thump faster, my vision focus and clear. But looking out onto this stillness offers something too: serenity, measured breathing, a quiet that I seldom allow myself.
Lying back on my bean bag, I see differently, My vision is pitched towards the sky, to where delicate branch ends unloose their twiggy hold on sky. Up this high, branches lash wildly while lower, the trunk that bears them sways hardly at all. A dray in a distant tree tosses and pitches in a 120 degree arc, but not a single leaf or twig that comprises it is loosened by its rocking. Looking at it through binoculars, a small orangish patch is visible on the side, a squirrel flank equally motionless, content to ride this wild cradle.
I rest my eyes from following this dizzying motion, allow the heat from the stove to lull me to drowsiness. When I open them a few minutes later, the window pane is alive with motion: billions of fast falling flakes of snow bluster down.