The day slowly clogged with increasing grayness below a thick shroud of clouds. Like all Sundays in recent memory, the warmth peaked midday and slowly dwindled with each passing moment to a meager, flinty chill. Around sundown, the promised snow began. Anticipating the coming morning’s troubles, we drove the car up the long lane and up to where the roads would be passable come daylight. As we climbed the hill, a furtive motion caught Mary’s eye.
In the corner of the field, separated from us by the tree line and a narrow ditch, a defiant red fox, looking as large as a German Shepherd, stood above the bloody carcass of a newborn lamb. It froze in place, staring at us motionless until we drove on.
When we returned on foot down the lane, snowflakes swirling about us and sticking to our clothes, the fox still remained. Unflinching, it stared us down again, bloody scraps of flesh in its jaws, steam issuing from its mouth. Then it turned away from us, dragging its bounty through the cover of the freshly-fallen snow as darkness closed in.
The world is a hard place.