I was sitting on a bench at the local Audubon center

when a red fox approached me. He was pretending to

not be interested in me from about ten feet away

and I was pretending not to be interested in him. I went

on gazing at the tree line. He came up alongside the

bench and seemed to gaze out like I was. The thought

crossed my mind that he either might be really hungry,

someone’s escaped pet, have rabies, or be protecting a

den nearby. But my desire for a special kind of kinship

with nature won out. I patted a spot on the bench.

The fox jumped up and dropped playfully on my lap,

looking back up into my eyes. “I knew you wanted to

be my friend,” I said. “Let me take you on a journey,”

he said. “A journey it is,” I said. I stood and awaited

my new companion. “Follow me,” he said. I followed

him through the field and some woods nearby,

and then through another field, and across a stream

or two. “Where are you taking me?” I said. “To the place

where trees speak,” he said. “Let’s do it then,” I said.

A few years later we approached a circle of white trees

somewhere on the other side of the Pacific. “We made it,”

I said. “It took long enough,” the fox said. “I must leave

you now. Goodbye.” The fox trotted away and seemed to

evaporate off the tips of the tall grasses. I missed my friend.

But I did not understand why he left so coldly. I tried to

not think about it and approached one of the talking, white

trees. “Excuse me, I was guided here by a fox who told me

you could speak, and that this was a journey.” I said.

“Your little friend did you right,” a tree said. “Yeah, but

then he just gets up and leaves like bringing me here

was all he was ever supposed to do. For years we’ve gotten

to know each other. What kind of a friend abandons you

like that?” I said. “The kind that doesn’t want to hold you

back and that truly loves you,” the tree said. “Well then love

sucks,” I said. “Sometimes,” it said. “All the time,” I said.