Historical setting: 589 C.E. The river crossing near Tours
This cold October rain is relentless. Rivulets of gray water run in the ruts merging into the full river of roadway. The little donkey shakes his head to clear his eyes. I lead him walking, while the women spread the tarp over the cart for a bit of shelter for themselves.
Ana affirms my wondering, “Before the spring planting we will be glad to have Colleen with us. She is a skilled and able midwife.”
It’s been hinted. And I’ve had my thoughts, maybe they were thoughts but they felt more like dreams or random hopes. But now it is said in words complete with an earthly measurement of time. “Before the spring planting.”
We arrive at the place that was once Eve’s cottage and garden. Ana wants to take time here to grieve. The graves of Eve and Eve’s mother, and the others of my family are on high enough ground not to be washed out by the floods. Colleen follows Ana, listening to each memory she shares of her days when this flattened spot of mud was a home and she was a child yet innocent of deep loss.
I look out at the lands that were once my fields, then Ezra’s vineyards, and now here is a community of poor farms. The forests have been drawn back to nothing more than a fringe along the riverbank. And the river roils high and fast just now, so I gaze toward a more peaceful source of contemplation starring only into the fringy wood that remains.
A fox is sneaking a look at me. I see her for a moment peaking around a tree that is much too thin to hide her head and tail all at one time. She probably thinks if her eyes are hidden I can’t see her. But I do see her and now I see why she is so near and so concerned with a person in her wood. She is between me and a row of three little kit faces, climbing on their baby fox legs to see over the same fallen log I seemed to be approaching. It might be just the right breadth for carving into a cradle, but now I understand it was already serving that purpose. The brave mother fox was giving herself up as a distraction from her babies. I know she could outrun me were I to pursue. She is egging on the chase to save her kits.