Public transportation looks particularly attractive when snow hits my New England neighborhood. Watching a weather report on a local station early yesterday morning, I saw the video of a car that had slid across a nearby highway and off the shoulder of the road. I abandoned the idea of driving my own car downtown for late morning services, concluding that I could walk the twenty-five minutes to the closest bus running on Sunday and easily make it to church before the first hymn.
I knew it would be cold when I opened the front door. I knew it would be quiet. I knew it would be beautiful. I knew I would pride myself on being out early this Sunday morning, a transplanted Southerner able to bring a peculiar wonder to the prospect of the wide spaces around me dotted with falling snow.
Even with Polartec 180’s keeping my ears warm, I could enjoy the sound of my boots crunching across the snow of the driveway and onto the road. I had not expected that anyone would yet have cleared the sidewalks in front of these suburban homes, and so the empty roads became my walkway.
What I hadn’t known, what I hadn’t expected was the possibility that I would share part of this suburban walk with a small red fox.
From the briskness with which he trotted from one driveway and down the next, I knew I had nothing to fear from him. He crossed the street at a couple of points, exploring what driveways on the other side of the road might lead him to. I was clearly of no interest to him, tall as I was, determinedly walking as I was, thickly padded with an LL Bean down parka as I was.
If I was of no interest to him, he was a compelling focus for me. The red fox was alert to this landscape in a way that left my own attentions to evergreen branches weighted with snow feeling perfunctory and amateur. My sense of health and personal well-being was put into a wider perspective that I do not usually entertain.
When I boarded the near empty bus ten blocks away and twenty minutes later, I was still smiling from the unexpected encounter. Fumbling out of my gloves, I drew from my pocket both the cash I had ready for the fare and a mass transit fare card that I had purchased months ago.
“I don’t know if there is anything left on this,” I explained to the bus driver before I tapped it against the electronic fare reader installed next to him.
“You’ve got lots left,” he informed me almost immediately, adding with a grin, “Nothing like finding money you didn’t think you had, eh?”
Once settled in a seat, I pulled from my book bag a volume of psalms adapted from the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell. The soft-cover book opened to Psalm 147, and I read:
You rebuild what has been ruined
and recreate what was lost.
Later in the same psalm I came across this verse:
You give the wild animals their prey;
you feed the young ravens when they cry.
I smiled afresh at what seemed a vote of confidence from a universe that could draw me out of well-traveled ways on a Sunday morning and assure me of companionship and resources I may have thought I could no longer expect.
Photo of red fox from www.hoothollow.com