How Foxes Got Their Meander, Part 2

August 20, 2020

Where we left off in part 1: Fox’s parents think she is too dreamy, plus, she never goes in straight lines like a proper fox should. So they come up with a plan. …

What Mom and Dad wanted

The next day Fox tried to go straight.

But the sky was so sparkly and the breeze was so brisk and the air was so aromatic, it was like the whole forest was saying, “Come play with me!”

How could Fox say no?

She got home home especially late that night.

Her carrot stew was especially cold.

On one side of the stew bowl was a note from her parents: “Gone to bed.”

On the other side of the stew bowl was a flyer: “Great Forest Race! Next week!”

Tortoise had challenged Hare, Fox read, but all animals were welcome.

“Well, Hare is the fastest creature in the whole forest, so that’s just silly,” thought Fox, putting away the flyer.

Her mind drifted to other things. Like how the clouds at sunset had made a quilty pattern and how they turned from white to red to pink to orange to a lovely shade of black.

But which shade of black? There were so many to choose from.

Fox was trying to decide whether it was onyx or ebony or obsidian when her parents came yawning out of their bedroom.

“Hi, Sweetie,” said Mrs. Fox.

“You should eat,” said Mr. Fox.

“I keep thinking about clouds,” Fox explained.

“We want you to enter the race,” said Mrs. Fox.

“You’re faster than Tortoise and smarter than Hare,” said Mr. Fox.

“The winner gets a big trophy,” said Mrs. Fox.

“And the best den in the forest,” said Mr. Fox.

“Okay, Mom and Dad. I’ll try,” said Fox.

Since the next day was Saturday, she started her training.

Her parents taught Fox the ways of not-meandering.

How to cover her nose with sap, so she wouldn’t be distracted by smells.

How to stuff her ears with mud, so she wouldn’t be distracted by sounds.

How to focus her vision with blinders, so she wouldn’t be distracted by sights.

Fox trained in a deep ditch.

She WALKED back and forth and she MARCHED back and forth and she TROTTED back and forth and she SPRINTED back and forth.

Till well after sundown.

She trained so much she missed one whole week of quilty sunsets.

“But that’s okay,” she told herself, “I’ll get my meander out. I’ll be like other foxes. Mom and Dad will be happy.”

By race day, she was ready.

The Great Forest Race

The course was a straight line. It stretched one exact mile across a field, into a small wood, up and down some grassy hills, through a stream, and over a meadow to the finish line.

Fox adjusted her nose plug and her ear plugs and her blinders.

She thought straight-ahead thoughts.

She toed the line.

The starting horn sounded and the racers were off!

Fox sped after Hare, tucking in close behind like her father had trained her.

But running across a meadow with a bunch of sap and mud and other gunk on your head isn’t like running back and forth in a ditch without that gunk on your head.

You can’t see where the mouse holes are, for example.

Even swift runners can wobble.

Even skillful creatures can trip.

Even surefooted foxes can fall.

Fox fell.

Off popped her blinders!

She looked down. The blinders were certainly too tattered to put back on her head.

She looked up. “My, what a lovely sky,” she said, gazing all around her.

Hare disappeared into the woods.

Tortoise plodded by with a friendly, “Hullo, Fox.”

Fox gave a little shake and returned to the moment.

“Remember your training!” Fox told herself. “Straightness!”

She dashed forward.

Moments later, she felt an itch.

First in one ear, then the other.

Without thinking, she sat down for a scratch.

First the one ear, then the other.

Out plopped her earplugs!

The earplugs were certainly too dusty to put back in her ears.

She heard a wren warbling happily from the forest. Fox wondered what was making him so happy.

Tortoise plodded by with a friendly, “Hullo again, Fox.”

Fox gave a little shake and returned to the moment.

“Do it for Mom and Dad!” Fox told herself. “Do it for  straightness!”

She dashed forward.

It was a kind of dryish, dustyish day full of pollen and seedfluff. Enough to make your nose twitchy even if it’s encased in sap.

Fox sneezed.


Off plonked her noseplug.

The noseplug was certainly too crusty to put back in her nose.

She breathed in the sweet scent of lavender from a far meadow.

What a beautiful day!

Green-jacketed grasses amassed in the fields. Trees in the breeze with their branches all dancing. And clouds overhead like white boats in the blue.

What a musical day!

Choirs of crickets who chirped as they worked. A stream chit-chatting with stones it passed. And some ways away the hoorays of a jay.

What fragrant day!

The mossy forest funk of fallen logs. The wonderful whiff of wild wet fur. And the signature scent of mushroom perfume.

Tortoise plodded by with a friendly, “Hullo again again, Fox.”

Fox gave a little shake, but just then the world said, “Come play.”

“Good luck, Tortoise,” said Fox.

She left the path.

Want to read more? The story concludes in part 3!

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