This little story was written by my husband, Eddie.
"A Sighting in the Woods"
As he opened his eyes, the cold instantly brought him to full alert. The sharp, biting wind had been there all along, but his dreams had sheltered him completely. The green meadows and fields of flowers were snatched away so suddenly that even their memory was gone. He stood slowly. His joints were stiff and his muscles tight. It was as though he had been there for days rather than a few short hours. He stretched his neck and shoulders and took a cautious step forward. He took one strong whiff of the pre dawn air to confirm what he already knew to be true; he was alone. The air from his powerful lungs crystallized as he exhaled and his second breath was deeper and longer, almost a sigh. It was going to be a long day and he knew it.
For the first few hours, he saw nothing to cause alarm. There was no sign of life at all. Even the birds seemed strangely quiet as he made his way along the invisible, but ever present path. The only tracks through the satin white snow followed him obediently. They were his silent companions, steady and unwavering, the only ones loyal, or foolish, enough to accompany him. He made no sound as he travelled, though there was no one to hear him if he had. The thought of being silent as he made his way along did not occur to him. It was innate. He was born with the instinct and it was reinforced to him as he was brought up by his mother and aunts. Now, he made no more conscious effort to keep quiet than you or I do to pump our own hearts. His ears constantly kept watch for him as his mind drifted slowly and pleasantly back to the meadow.
He recalled dreamily his small brown friends who would appear from seemingly nowhere, spend long lazy minutes frolicking without a care or concern, and then bolt away as quickly as they had arrived. A fleeting shadow ahead and to the right stopped him in his tracks. His body tensed like the string of a bow and arrow and then relaxed just as quickly when he saw his old friend, now white as the driven snow, hop slowly away.
It reminded him of the first time he had ever seen a hare. He didn’t know then that it was called a “hare,” nor did he know now. Names and labels were insignificant to him. His simple mind didn’t work that way. He thought in emotions. And the emotion associated with these wonderfully frisky creatures was joy. When he was young and new to the woods, every fresh sound, smell and texture was cause for fright. No one, man or beast, could get within a hundred yards before his senses roared into full throttle. Slowly he began to recognize and distinguish between the threats and the non-threats.
The two classifications for him, outside of his family, were danger and safe. And the first hare he ever saw was immediately a danger. Not only was it new and quick and alert, but it had also snuck up on him. Even at that early age, his eyes and ears were sharp. So, naturally, it took him completely aback when all of a sudden this monstrous, though tiny, creature was standing not ten feet from him staring quizzically into his eyes. Had it followed him on his mad, aimless dash into the wood, he might never have had the courage to return. Instead, as the panic subsided and the curiosity set in, he made his way meekly back and found the monster going about its business paying no more heed to him than he would have paid to a mushroom on the ground.
It was always pleasant for him to remember the brightness and vitality of that moment and it warmed his spirit, if not his body, on days like today. He continued on looking at nothing, but seeing all. His life had been hard since then and there had been many new things to see and hear and do. Nothing much surprised him anymore. He had taken this very path dozens of times in all seasons. Things changed, friends left or died, trees grew or fell, and all the while he kept on walking. He stopped to eat when he got hungry. He stopped to rest when he got tired. His days were all alike now and would be until the thaw. There was rarely any variation and today looked like it would be the same as the sun slowly began to sink toward the horizon.
Then, as he crested a ridge, he saw two unfamiliar creatures, likely starving it seemed to him, with oddly colorful fur like rainbows. They seemed out of place, as their winter fur clearly had not set in yet. He wondered how on earth they could survive, scarcely a layer of fat and with faces as naked as a baby possum. Normally, he would have kept his distance from any unknown animal, but they had an odd smell and squeaked more than grunted or growled. They were loud and foolish and did not notice him at all. They paid no attention to him as he crept up slowly from downwind and uphill. He was less than twenty feet from them when they finally looked up and became alert to him. His age and boldness tempered his instinct to run, so he stayed, ready to flee at their first aggressive move.
As he studied them, they raised their arms towards him. Since their feet were still, he braved on, curious to see what they were up to. Then, the last thing that he could have ever imagined: the sound of a loud “click” as if a giant twig snapped in half. Then a light, like the lightning during rainstorms, lit up his entire mind. He stood, paralyzed but unhurt, his mind racing with no thoughts at all. The second flash woke him from his trance and he leapt off with a flick of his white tail. As he bounded away, he heard a voice say, "That'll be a good picture for your blog."