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The Fox

After a fine dinner at the Lyle Hotel, I walk to the river across the railroad tracks past that once industrious sawmill site, now a quiet, joyful, interlude full of birdsong.

A fox trots out of the grassy field onto the narrow asphalt lane ahead of me, bouncing along carefree with apparently no destination except to perhaps find a mouse at leisure. Sensing something, it stops and turns around to find me standing ever so quiet less than twenty yards behind. I don’t move. Neither does the fox. I begin to walk forward and it scampers into some brambles ahead, lies down, peering through the thicket to see what I do next. I walk by nonchalant, like everything in the world is just fine, which at this moment at this time, in this place, is.

The fox watches me walk out of sight. I know this because I sneak backward glances before I turn to the water’s edge. I cross meadow patches of tender grass and stand on the basalt outcroppings looking down the Columbia River Gorge, the waters clear and calm like a lake.

I hike up a knoll and down looping back to where the fox thinks it is hidden. I am surprised to see it still hunkered there looking to where it saw me last, so I guess it is a she keeping me away from a nearby litter. She tracks me quickly, readjusting her body to keep me in sight. Before I disappear across the concrete bridge spanning the railroad tracks, I glance back. She has not moved and her eyes stay on me.

Exquisite summer twilight here is like being in a watercolor.

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