Creative Commons (Brian Hoffman)
When you live near and walk on greenways (or trails for that matter) you should be open to seeing and interacting with nature as it presents itself (ah, the whole essence of nature is that it provides surprises, and we have no control). I knew this from a place of thinking, but I really didn't know this from a place of being.
My first encounter with said red fox was when I headed out the door for a morning meditation walk. Five steps out the door I looked up and there sat the red fox at the end of the driveway. I stared at him (her?), and he stared right back. I mumbled "you win" (as my thinking brain went nuts with thoughts of bites and rabies) and headed back inside -- forgoing my walk and settling for coffee.
My second encounter with said fox came midway through a morning meditation walk. My thinking brain again went "bites, rabies" then embellished it with how to protect myself "you should pick up a stick; you should call 911; you should call animal control." But then my observing mind (ah, the whole reason that I undertake these walks to begin with!) chirped in: "you do realize that the red fox just crossed the street to give you room to walk by unimpeded?" and "you're looking back at the fox just as he is similarly looking back at you as you both gracefully walk past each other and go on your way" and "of course there's a fox, you're out in nature!" This became a moment of small awe.
I am now looking forward to the time when my meditation walk intersects again with the red fox since I have now shifted out of a place of fear to a place of awe. I want the chance to stop in my tracks and merely watch -- to see, to really see. And, to chuckle slightly at my own humanness.
Epilogue: About three months later, my path intersected with said red fox for the third time. I was out on a morning meditation walk, focusing on breath and a "here -- now" mantra when he came out of hiding and crossed a low flowing creek to stay clear of my path. He then stopped and stared at me; and, I stopped and stared at him... sort of a mutual respect club. Awe, pure awe. I looked away first, so he won the stare contest; and, as I walked away I took one quick look back to check that foxes don't join the human parade such as stray dogs do. I feel honored to have a sense of where he feels safe enough to make his home.
I haven't seen said red fox since this last encounter.