This beautiful photo is by Doug Rooney in Ferrisburgh, VT shared via WCAX (January 2014). I chose this photo because it encapsulates my experience with the fox I met one snowy day in early April 2010. I was driving my little convertible up the road past my house towards route 7. Just as I passed the area's little sub-division of houses and reached the top of the hill, a little fox darted out in front of me on the road.
It was so early in the morning that the plow truck had not yet come through and there was light snow on the road. As my car was quite light apart from the snow tires, I was driving fairly slowly. It was a beautiful morning. The snow was perfect - light, soft and fluffy. Most of my friends were sick of snow and ready for spring but I have always loved the perfect snow we get usually in early April. It's the last bit before the swift change of seasons.
The fox darted forward but then froze in its tracks when it saw me. I was surprised at how big it was up close - bigger than my old golden retriever Rosie and also how dainty it looked. It had beautiful black satin paws that resembled opera gloves. The body was a fiery orange, which stood out against the white snow and its face reminded me of a cat with a delicate bone structure. The fox had intelligent, knowing eyes. As it crossed the road, it did not look up. I had brought my car to a stop just as the fox had made its way halfway across the street. The fox looked up, its facial expression changing rapidly from simple curiosity to a look of terror and almost surrender.
I lowered my window and waited. The air felt brisk. I stared at the fox and smiled. The fox hesitated and then stared back at me for a good minute. Its eyes were alert and I felt like it stared right through me. I saw the tension in its face dissipate slowly and then it lowered its head, turned and crossed the road swiftly. I exhaled, not realizing I had been holding my breath. As the fox scurried off the road, I wondered what stories it had to tell.
Two years later, when I decided to write my book at last - a story that had been brimming on and off in my mind for the last four years - I knew I had to include a fox.