The ground is cool and firm beneath my feet, the tiny white clover buds tickling my toes as I step gingerly across the field. A warm breeze drifts through the woods that lay before me, rustling the leaves on the trees, brushing 'cross my face, ruffling my hair. I reach up to brush the bangs from my eyes and see a flash of white in the underbrush. A few quick steps and leaning down and I find myself face to face with a little black whiskered nose, peeking through the rose bushes. Coaxing with an upturned hand, I draw the little fox out from the bush as he sniffs and licks, looking for a treat. I remove the backpack from my shoulders and pull out a sandwich that I had packed for the walk. He perks up and sits back on his haunches, begging. Laughing, I tear off a piece and hand it to him. The fox gracefully accepts my offering, then licks his paws and washes his face. His comical behavior makes me laugh and he looks up quizzically, as if to say " what's so funny?". Slowly, I reach out to stroke his soft, grey fur, and he leans into me and closes his eyes as if in bliss. We continue the walk, my new companion and I, as the sun begins to go down in the western sky. Small creatures, rabbits and mice, do not scatter before us as I would expect, but sit calmly, observing us. They seem to intuit that we mean no harm and simply greet us and wish us well on our way.
Deeper into the woods, it is much darker than in the clearing. The canopy of the trees creating a ceiling of branches and leaves. The air is much cooler here, and the ground smells rich and earthy. I decide to go back to the clearing, so that we may watch the stars. We head to the East, to the nearest opening through the trees. Just as we reach the clearing, a large horse emerges from the wood opposite ours. He strides directly to us without hesitation and stands before us. His coat is a beautiful grey, speckled salt and pepper throughout with black. He favors his right front, and I step to the side to see why. A long gash crosses his right shoulder and looking down, I discover his fetlock is also cut, a thin piece of wire wrapped and tightened around it. "What have you done here? " I ask softly, as I bend and begin to gingerly unwrap the wire. Finished, I run my hands down his leg, ensuring there is no damage to the ligaments or bone. Satisfied, I rise and give him a quick pat. His soft lips nuzzle my neck and tears prick my eyes as I watch the little fox step forward and begin licking the horses leg, soothing the torn skin.
My two companions and I continue our walk. The path is clear and smooth. The sun is nearly down and the stars are beginning to twinkle in the night sky. White horse, white fox, they glow in the dusk, as we trek across the field. A shooting star streaks across the sky, catching my attention, and as I look back down, toward my destination, I see a figure standing near the edge of the field. My soul calls out in joy as it recognizes this new companion, and I find myself running toward him with no conscious effort. Chip has come to join me on this walk. We wrap our arms around one another and then I reach up and cup his face in my hands, running my fingers through his beard. We begin to walk the loop, clasping one another's hands. No words need be exchanged, for all is felt between us. The evening seems to last forever, lost in the love that we share, as we feel and experience our unending connection. As we come round the last part of the loop, he nods to the darkened sky, indicating the lateness of the day and turns me toward home.
Fox and horse follow us to the fence line. I give each a pat and a kiss on the nose, then watch as they each turn and amble back to their wood, knowing that we will join together again soon. I duck beneath the stand of electric wire and straighten back on the other side. Chip is still with me and my heart leaps at the realization that he will be staying. He takes my hand in his and we turn toward home as a thousand shooting stars streak across the night sky.