Mary's big client was kind enough to include us in their holiday celebration last night, a wonderful dinner in a private room of a very classy restaurant. Good food, good wine, good company, good music, and good spirits all around.
When the celebration finally came to an end around ten o'clock, we decided to do without the exhilaration of a return cab ride to where we had parked; instead, we would take advantage of the relatively mild air and walk back. It was a beautiful crisp clear evening, with a three-quarter moon hanging low in the eastern sky and even some stars visible through the glare of the city lights.
We walked down the cobblestone streets and crossed the old iron bridge over the canal, then continued down to the waterfront. We stood and admired the reflections sparkling on the water, their own special kind of holiday decorations.
As we stood in the night air, Mary saw something moving in the distance, downriver from where we stood. My jaded urban instincts told me immediately it was a rat scurrying from one hiding spot to another. As I followed its movements, I reevaluated; it was way too big for even a well-fed city rat, and moved with too much determination and speed—much to my chagrin, directly towards where we both stood. Opossum, perhaps?
Opossums have their own distinctive, purposeless, shambling way of moving. Whatever this spectral being was, it meant business, and was hustling straight down the narrow walkway we were on. We quickly stepped across the worn railroad ties bordering the path—as though that would deter whatever was approaching if it meant us harm.
Then it emerged into the light—A red fox, in the middle of this most urban of areas. It trotted right past us with insouciant alacrity, tossing a quick glance at us over its shoulder and continuing on its way with, I believe, a smile on its face.
Who would have imagined? What a delightful surprise to cap a wonderful evening.