The Quest of a Snowfox

White powder swirls and twirls in the howling wind. Air that’s barely there and dry as old bones cuts through multiple different types of fabric layered one upon the other to try and protect my skin from this brutal environment as I stare out into the miles of blinding snow. Movement. A black speck in the vastness jolts me as I spin my head around. I squint my eyes before covering them with high powered glass allowing me to enhance the image until I make out the white, furry creature plastered against a background one shade lighter than it seems to be. His back bows up like a furious cat about to strike out in revenge as his small legs prance beneath him. It’s like a cross between a rabbit and a deer with ears plastered back against his head, nose pointed, and despite the wind pummeling its face with ice crystals, his black, beady eyes are focused on whatever lies ahead.

He slows his trot. At a snails pace, he comes to a standstill, turns his head back in the direction in which he just came, and lifts his nose up just enough for me to notice. Another step here and then there. I wonder what’s caught his attention. His nose twitches a bit before he pounces again and again at the frozen ground. Front legs crash down as he claws at the ice, snow, and solid earth in search of something, anything, that might fill the gnawing stomach crying out to him.

My heart stops when another white creature many times larger than the one previously captivating my attention comes into my viewfinder. I fear for the snowfox, or perhaps for my own life, but the polar bear doesn’t seem as interested in the two of us as we are in him. Once the threat is gone, I watch as the snowfox curls tightly in a ball and wraps his long, black-tipped white tail around his bundled up body like a comforter. I find myself jealous of his God made shield from the ruthless beating of nature as I search out my own shelter while trying not to lose the ball of life I came here to find.

Defeat does not quiet the fox for long. Warmth brings back another surge of energy. That or the grumbling of his tummy interrupts his slumber. Regardless, he is back on the move. I watch the swirling white powder and wonder in which direction the wind will blow my scent. Leave too soon, and I will spook him away. Stay back too far, and I will lose sight of him with no guarantee of another sighting this season. He’s a mere speck in the distance when I step away from my own resting space. My legs are numb and heavy, slowing my stride. Anxiety creeps up and tries to strangle me driving me forward while trying to hold me back.

The glass brings him closer and closer to me until it seems I can reach out and touch him. He creeps as if he’s in slow motion before he comes to a stop with one paw resting barely above the snow. His back legs stiffen and his tail seems to flatten out behind him as his front legs get closer and closer to the ones behind them. Like a sudden explosion, he springs through the air like Tigger in the classic, Winnie the Pooh. His front legs crash into the hard ground with a thud before he frantically starts clawing and scratching the surface away.

Suddenly, he stops the madness. His nose sniffs the ground first and then the air. He’s on the move. His quest to hush his stomach far from over.

The next half hour is quite comical. He bounds through the air with all his might only to crash face first into the soft snow burying his face along with his front feet. His back legs and tail lash out in distress, frantically thrashing about in an attempt to save himself. He rolls out of his own disaster, but it doesn’t stop him from trying again and again. This time he springs feet above the ground only to smack his face into the hard, frozen soil. He shakes his head back and forth as if he’s recovering from a concussion. His nose seems to recover first. Then, his instincts kick in second. After that, he bounces feet above the ground again. First, he plants his face into a snowdrift before somersaulting out of it as if he does it all the time – which he does. Over and over again, he springs through the air only to slam his feet into the ground beneath him, or bury himself into the blanket of softened snow, or face plant into the frozen earth. I laugh deep within myself but maintain the control needed to keep the melody from ringing across the artic plains.

Instantly, something changes. Not like a dramatic change. But a quiet and nearly unnoticeable change. Pinks and purples begin swirling in with shades of white glistening in the jewels of this cold haven. The fox stops jumping. He quickly sniffs here and there and moves along a straight line. His stomach has to be yelling at him by now as he cocks his head one way and then the other as if he’s wondering where his dinner has gone.

I watch as he prepares himself to liftoff. He flies up into the air and comes crashing down. His entire face is buried beneath the snow, but this time he doesn’t seem to panic. There’s something unique about all of this. His legs wave in excitement instead of fear. His tail wags with zeal. I know before I ever see it with my own eyes – today’s going to be a great day. I can feel it!

There it is – the lemming hangs limply from his mouth. A smile of pride and gratitude lighten the mood and calm the wickedness of the wilderness. The hunt is over for today, but in order to survive, he will have to hunt again tomorrow. But today . . . today, he beat the element. Today, he won!

I put away my binoculars and grab my camera. I snap the picture of white creature against white canvas and know whenever I get home, I will be on my own quest to find the reason for my adventure and subject of my laughter. I’ll squint into the blinding whiteness of the photo in search of this magnificent creature, the reason I stand frozen in the empty, silence of this quiet section of the world.

Checking in on Those New Year's Resolutions

Confession Time! Which one (or ones) best describes you?

1. I won’t be setting any New Year’s Resolutions this year.

2. I’ve already forgotten what I was going to do differently.

3. I tried. I really did. I just can’t do it anymore.

4. I wrote them down. I promise I did. And I plan to get around to doing something about them. I just haven’t started YET.

5. I’m struggling but I’m still hanging in there.

6. I’m determined. I’ve got this no matter what!

The Mountains Disappeared Overnight

Our cabin is tiny but sturdy. My grandfather and father fell the trees from the property in which it stands. They labored to prepare the logs to be chinked together. Years have passed by. My husband and I have raised our boys here. The mountains that stand tall and majestic behind us our well-known. The kids wore trails from the back door to the top of Mt. Saint Claire, our name for it only, of course. But overnight the mighty mountains disappeared. Perhaps the fog stole them or maybe the snow. But the hands of time will bring their return.

It All Happened During a Two Hour Walk . . .

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. The birds . . . well, I think they are still down south because winter is supposed to be here right now, but it felt more like fall. I could hear the chatter of kids down the block. Maybe they were riding their bikes or perhaps just playing in a yard. I couldn’t see them. I just heard their voices, not even their words.

I stopped at the bridge. I took a little time to stare at the slowly moving water as it meandered its way from here to there. I could hear my sister’s cheerful voice, “Grab a boat!” We’d both go in search of a fallen leaf. Not too small, not too big. A little curve is good, but a flat one might work as well. You just don’t know until you drop it and watch it flitter slowly down to the water hoping it lands where the water is moving and not in one of the still pools. We cheer as our leaf boats disappear and run across the street to the other side of the bridge to see if ours made it to the other side. It is here we stop for dreaming and reminiscing. We watch the water, checking for leaf boats – our leaf boats. Great cheers come whenever we see one even if it isn’t our own. Success is great regardless!

A walk from street to street looking at the neighbor’s houses. All different. It’s why we chose this location. No cookie cutter homes here. All as unique as the people whom reside within them. Some with dogs. Others with cats. Yet, some probably have no pets. Homes stand tall and grand. Others seem lonely even though we know people live behind their walls. It’s an older neighborhood slowly turning over to the next generation of homeowners. We watch as moving vans drive up and older people move out. Estate sales go on for days before remodeling begins. Months later, the house goes on the market. It will become someone’s dream home just like it was for the ones before them. We experienced the same thing. We understand. Yet, I still ache a little as I watch the change. So many years of memories packed up in boxes and sold for cents on the dollar. Memories attached to rooms and holidays within walls that someone somewhere will have to carefully store within a brain that seems to lose hold of such things as the years go by.

Steps taken. Lost in thought. Wondering, dreaming, planning, wishing, hoping, or just thinking – pondering the moments of the day. The beats of my heart quicken with the rustle of the leaves. I stop. I look. I listen. There it is again. It’s quick. It sounds much larger than it really is though. I see it. The long, skinny tail – a lizard. J.T. would know the kind. He’d probably chase it around until he either caught the poor thing, or it got away from him. I smile. In these brief memory moments, he’s still a little boy and not the man he has become.

People run by. I’ve seen them before, but I don’t know their names. I suppose they live nearby. Not next door, but somewhere. I suppose it’s sad we don’t know everyone on the block. I’m sure it hasn’t always been like that. Perhaps in the days before evil seemed to lurk around every corner neighbors knew neighbors for blocks on end. Now, we watch each other come and go and make their way from here to there. We might speak with a polite “hello” or a generic “How’s it going?”, but a conversation isn’t really had that often.

Those down the way still have their Christmas decoration up. That’s good. See it doesn’t make me feel so bad when I flip my light switch on in the evenings and my Christmas tree lights up. My décor is usually down by now, but I’m dragging my feet. Maybe because it’s been an unusually busy season or perhaps because today when I could have taken it down, I chose to watch a movie with my husband instead. Or maybe it’s because the decorations still hold some Christmas magic I’m just not quite ready to let go of yet.

Dusk comes and night follows. A two hour walk that wasn’t even a walk. Not really anyway. Just movement of the brain – a walk down memory lane. Old ones. New ones. Moments in time. Here briefly and then gone.

5 Days of Snow

On the first day it snowed, we all looked in awe at the beauty as the snowflakes slowly fell from the sky.

On the second day it snowed, the school children (and teachers) cheered when the schools were closed.

On the third day it snowed, the children were sledding and building snowmen, but roadways were a nightmare.

On the fourth day it snowed, there was little to nothing at the grocery store and few who even ventured out to see what was left.

On the fifth day it snowed, we were dreaming of sunshine, beaches, and summer.

Story Starter: "They met by the love bench . . ."

They met by the love bench near the entrance of the park. Panic overtook her the minute he sat down beside her. Who would know if something bad happened? No one knew she was here. She should have called someone and told them she was meeting up with a stranger. But is he really a stranger. They had been texting for months. She felt so comfortable and confident around him online, but now . . . no, not now. He seemed taller, more muscular, and frightening.

“Are you okay?” he finally asks.

Okay? I don’t know. Should I be considered? But her mouth whispers, “Yes, I’m fine.”

He looks around before asking, “Why are we whispering?”

She laughs, “Just checking your hearing.”

He cocks his head and a hint of grin can be seen beneath his twinkling eyes. She knows he doesn’t believe her, but how does she even begin to explain her fear to him, a total stranger. It’s now she realizes the disadvantage of the convenience of “getting to know someone” in the safety and comfort of your own home.

Fireworks

Plunging into the sky and shattering darkness with brilliance. A glimpse of awestruck eyes mixed with unexpected fear. Boom or flash – which came first? Does it even matter? The beating of his heart, her fluttering eyelashes, their shy, wanting grins intensify the display. He reaches across the blanket. His fingertips brush hers lighting the fuse. The beautiful colors spread across the sky like the fingers of a lightning strike illuminating a midnight canvas. His arm around her, her wanting eyes, the softness of her lips, that one explosive moment may never be more than this; but right now, it’s everything!