As I sauntered up the rise I saw him standing in the middle of the road not thirty yards ahead. In the early morning light he looked like a small dog with a delicate pointed snout and triangular ears. It wasn’t until he turned that I recognized the long low body and equally long white-tipped bushy tail.

I slowed my steps as he trotted across the lawn between the houses. Inside a green ranch house a small dog began to bark.

When I reached mailbox at the green house I stooped down and peered through the drooping branches of an old spruce. There he was, standing at the edge of the treeline in the back yard, looking in my direction. I dropped to one knee and waited to see what he would do.

For a long time he stood still, looking periodically to the left. Then he dropped to his haunches, slaked his tail on the grass and yawned. He turned toward me once again, seemingly studying my face as I studied his form. Finally, after several minutes he nonchalantly rose on all fours, lifted his tail, gave me one last look and trotted off into the undergrowth.

As I resumed my walk I could hear the yelps of dogs coming up from the houses below the ridge.

When I made the big turn in the bend of the street down by the river, I sighted another red fox up ahead. This one appeared older, more gaunt. He trotted off into the woods, perhaps on an early morning mission to seek out a kit who had failed to return to the den by the appointed curfew.

Even foxes have their familial concerns, I mused, as off in the distance a pewee called from the wood.