The Fox and the Vole: A Snow Thought

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The world is hard-shell icing around my house. The snow sparkles in the thin light and single-digit temperatures make me think about untenable environments. There are moments in our lives when we are breaking through the candied snowscape, up to our knees with the crust scraping our shins. Each step herculean, we have to remind ourselves that things might get better soon—the snow will melt one day.

The other day a fox hopped up on a rock outside my kitchen window. Remaining in taut, watchful motion, he leapt up through the air to earn the perfect arc and dove nose first into the crusty snow. Up he came with a vole.

I’m sympathetic to both sides of this situation.

Under the crusty snow, voles and other small creatures can live in relative comfort because the temperature remains around 32 degrees, thanks to that shell and the inches of insulation between the frigid outside air and the tunnels at ground level.

Back to untenable environments. The fox trots so lightly that he skips across the crust. The vole tunnels underneath and is warm where it appears cold. It makes me think about how we navigate difficulties. Sometimes we are all brute strength and ignorance, plowing through the obvious obstacle. And sometimes we should remember to tread lightly, immerse ourselves in the environment, or wait awhile to step into it at all.

Even so, sometimes the fox will get the vole. Sometimes we break through the snow. Always, the season shifts, the leaves come out, and there is an opportunity to try again.

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