Yokoyama san on a Walk with a Fox

“This basket just keeps getting heavier,” I thought as I slung the woven rope and scrap cloth straps of the split bamboo ruck over my shoulder.

The grass had all dried up in the cold weather so at least the trail was easy to see. The rocks that I step on were dry and dusty. The wind in the cedar trees was gentle, and my jikatabi-shod feet were quiet. So I was surprised when my husband walked up beside me. I hadn’t heard him come up.

“Where are you going,” he asked.

“Where do you think I’m going? To the flower patch you idiot.” We walked along in silence.

Then he said,” Come over here. There’s something I want to show you.”

“What is it”?

“You’ll see when we get there,” he said, and we walked on. We walked past some grave markers, people I don’t even know, and I’ve been here for over 80 years.

“How much further,” I said,”I have work to do, though you wouldn’t know what work is.”

“It’s just a little further,” he said, and as he stepped up to put his foot on a rock, I caught a glimpse of reddish fur through a hole in his trousers. A fox. That’s why I hadn’t heard him walking up from behind me, and that’s why the questions that were even more meaningless than usual.

I reached into my basket and pulled out a sickle. “You’re a fox! You’re not my husband, and you’re just trying to get me lost out here,” and I cut the air between us with the sickle.

The iron in the sickle broke the spell, and the fox returned to his actual appearance. “And don’t you try and trick me again, Fox, or I’ll cut your tail off instead of just cutting the air,” I shouted at the fox as he bounded off.

The fox had succeeded in turning me around a little, but I could figure out the directions with the sunlight coming through the trees, and soon found my way back to the trail.

That event wasted an hour of good working time, and tired me out something terrible.


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