I continued to sit quietly with my back propped against a mossy Beech tree, whilst the vixen cub snoozed.
A short while later a bold rabbit came lolloping through the leaf-strewn wood. I watched it, wondering why on earth it would come so close to the foxes.
The young vixen sat up, ears pricked and eyes bright.
Down the bank she came, her hunting instincts up.
What happened next was very funny.
The cub ran as fast as she could towards the rabbit, but when she was about ten feet from it, she stopped. “What do I do now?” she seemed to wondering. At little more than half its size, she had no hope of catching it!
The rabbit knew this too. It stared rather disdainfully at the cub for a few seconds. Then it stamped a hind foot and was off into the undergrowth. At this the young vixen ran forwards again…
…and started to hunt through the leaves (as though the rabbit had somehow hidden itself in them).
Far safer to play at catching something imaginary than to attempt the real thing!
Eventually she worked her way right round the tree I was leaning against, popping her head out of the far side.
For a moment we looked at eachother. I don’t think she really knew what I was, but she was downwind of me now. Catching my scent, she turned and made her way back the way she had come.
Off up the bank…
…into the safety of her Earth.
And that was the last I saw of her (for that day).
Suddenly I was alone again on the old path through the woods, listening to the Beech trees whispering, my body filled with that uniquely-rich gratitude that comes when nature shares her secrets with us.