He is tracking me four rows deep, cycling in his hurried unhurried trot — blackwhitegreengreenblackwhite on and on in the green shadows, keeping out of this glorious hot sun. I’ve never met another soul on this path that dips below the road to begin, that keeps the corn to my left and edges deep trees and wetlands to my right, crouches and runs up a small hill and turns directly west before sliding down to a swamp I can only cross in winter.
At the top of the hill a row of walnut trees, scrub grass and shrubs takes off and arrows 300 yards to the road. Coming up to this line, twenty feet ahead of me, Wolfie stops as if immediately frozen in place, his head hunching below his shoulders, his legs coiled, his head turned down the row of trees. He is wearing the border collie ‘eye’, that severe, brilliant-child-focused-awareness that tries to freeze an animal in place. Moving slowly I gain an angle and see a red fox ten feet from Wolfie, rapt, unmoving — both so tense they seem to cause the air to shimmer around them.
Both leap simultaneously, the fox heading along the trees for the road, Wolfie running faster than I’ve ever seen him, and for thirty yards I do not breathe; Wolfie seems inches behind, but the fox moves as if in defiance of the laws of physics. He floats away, his bones hollow as a bird’s and looks as if someone shot him out of a pneumatic tube, the earth beneath him untouched, and then he’s gone inside a left turn so deft that Wolfie shoots past the spot of his disappearance and must waggle back, but it is too late — he’s houdinied away, gone baby gone, to ground, up a tree, into another flippin’ dimension, and Wolfie runs back and forth, the scent thick in his nostrils but the flesh mislaid, misplaced, out into the Sun, levitated away. Oh my I repeat, oh my.