I’m giving thanks for what I just saw.

Just now, 7:33 in the morning, Thanksgiving Day, Rokeby Avenue, Garrett Park, Maryland:

I was sitting in the office reading, on the screen, E. B. White’s very short story, “The Second Tree from the Corner.” As I finished its last lines, I looked up to see a walloping big orange fox in my driveway.

She walked slowly – she loped – her nose somewhat to the ground, her eyes calm and thoughtful.

For the first time in my years of fox-watching… fox-glimpsing… here was a large slow meditative one, generously giving me a long shot of her glossy body, her elegant snout. She pondered, pondered, pondered, along my driveway, me all agog gazing, her thick tail grazing the paving. She pondered maybe the mice and voles and rats she’d rid us of that evening…

She loped then along the side path of flat gray pavers; wound along the curving mulch I packed down to make a trail through the back lawn…

And these paths that I’d made – they were hersShe knew them, used them, the paths I’d made for her dreaming feet (see Sunday Morning, the thanksgiving poem), and for my dreaming feet.

Finally the fox entered yet another path of mine, this one created by clearing leaves and twigs in a curving line through a little wood that dips and then rises toward the very back of my forest, where I’ve long known the foxes live.

Instead of disappearing into her den, she paused at the last place on the path my eyes could follow her, and she pondered again and placed her snout along the path and shook her tail. And then she went up into the deeper woods.


Thus she is, by the sheer coincidence of my happening to read White’s story in such a way as to have summoned her (I read it in search of a Thanksgiving story to which I could link you), my natural disturbance in the lovely scene, my gilt-edged excellence.

It was an evening of clearing weather, the Park showing green and desirable in the distance, the last daylight applying a high lacquer to the brick and brownstone walls and giving the street scene a luminous and intoxicating splendor. Trexler meditated, as he walked, on what he wanted. “What do you want?” he heard again. Trexler knew what he wanted, and what, in general, all men wanted; and he was glad, in a way, that it was both inexpressible and unattainable, and that it wasn’t a wing. He was satisfied to remember that it was deep, formless, enduring, and impossible of fulfillment, and that it made men sick, and that when you sauntered along Third Avenue and looked through the doorways into the dim saloons, you could sometimes pick out from the unregenerate ranks the ones who had not forgotten, gazing steadily into the bottoms of the glasses on the long chance that they could get another little peek at it. Trexler found himself renewed by the remembrance that what he wanted was at once great and microscopic, and that although it borrowed from the nature of large deeds and of youthful love and of old songs and early intimations, it was not any one of these things, and that it had not been isolated or pinned down, and that a man who attempted to define it in the privacy of a doctor’s office would fall flat on his face.

Trexler felt invigorated. Suddenly his sickness seemed health, his dizziness stability. A small tree, rising between him and the light, stood there saturated with the evening, each gilt-edged leaf perfectly drunk with excellence and delicacy. Trexler’s spine registered an ever so slight tremor as it picked up this natural disturbance in the lovely scene. “I want the second tree from the corner, just as it stands,” he said, answering an imaginary question from an imaginary physician. And he felt a slow pride in realizing that what he wanted none could bestow, and that what he had none could take away.

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One Response to “Thanksgiving.”

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