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fox in the snow

Janet Kuypers

    Thrown into journalism mode, I pulled the car over when I spotted him.

    I mean, I was on a role on this trek, photographing elk, a bison recently, but this little creature, I have never seen a fox look so gold in my life.

    He was eating right at the side of the road, near the tree, so I pulled over my car, turned off my engine.

    He didn’t move.

    I opened my driver’s side car door, slowly.

    He still didn’t move.

    I moved the car door to almost close so it didn’t make noise. I made sure my Minolta Maxxum 5000 35 millimeter camera, the same camera I used for the newspaper to photograph girls softball and college men’s basketball games, rock bands for fluff articles and fill photos for page two, I made sure my camera was pressed firmly in my hand. You know, I always liked how that camera felt in my hand, I could cup my right hand along the side, like it had a handle made to fit perfectly into my hand, so my finger was always poised at the shutter button. But once I was out of my car, camera in hand, door out of my way, I started taking steps to edge toward the fox. He was only seven feet away from me, but I didn’t want to zoom more and lose a quality shot.

    So as I took a second step, then a third, to round the front corner of my car, the beautiful golden fox picked up his head to look at me.

    I didn’t move.

    As the two of us froze there that moment, I noticed how perfectly golden he was. He looked like a stuffed animal. Only more vibrant, more alive. And bigger than a stuffed animal, like a stuffed animal two and a half feet long. This little beast was impressive, as he picked his head up from eating, when he finally sensed me.

    After a moment, he turned and started leaping into the field to escape me. I started to follow.

    I forgot to mention that it was February, it was Wyoming, and there was five feet of snow on the ground five feet from the side of the road.

    And yes, I started sprinting after this fox, as it leaped away in the snow. I charged into the snow after it, I thought, I can make it through this snow, it’s freshly fallen, still light, I can keep up.

    And I took three steps into the five foot tall wall of snow and was pretty much stuck, so I stopped and watched the fox, leaping in bounds, and every few feet I’d see his golden head pop up from the snow before he looked to confirm the direction of each subsequent leap.

    I’ll watch him leap away for a minute, burning the memory of that golden fur in my skull, before I trudge back to my car.

Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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