It had finally stopped raining. I was out in the backyard looking down the slope leading into the woods when I saw turtle feet move inside one of the burrows that had provided shelter from the rain. Turtles dig nests there to lay their eggs.
I was excited to imagine that there would be baby turtles soon that would eventually head into the creek down below.
All of a sudden I heard a scratching noise behind me. I turned around quickly. A short red haired man seemed to appear from nowhere. It was getting dark and I could hardly see him clearly in the dusk but I was startled by his high pitched voice. He must have been watching me from the side of the woods while I was trying to remove one of the broken branches in the yard. There had been a storm and some branches had broken off the trees, hanging dangerously from above.
“Are you looking for someone to cut those branches?” he asked with a muffled cough. I nodded back, not sure I wanted to engage in a conversation with him. He stood there gazing at one of the large birch trees. It was almost dark and I wanted to go inside so I started walking back to the house. He followed me.
Why was he following me?
Annoyed with this strange behavior I turned around and looked him in the eye. He had a pleasant triangular face, pointed ears and small dark pupils. I noticed he was wearing a yellow gold chain necklace. He was now smiling and I could see his pronounced white teeth.
“I am not sure I am ready to decide yet, there are three trees that are impacted and I need to think about whether I want the trees removed or just trim the branches”, I said to him. Meanwhile I was thinking I need to compare prices, and check whether he had insurance coverage or not.
“It’s a day’s job for me, I can remove those branches tomorrow if you want.” He said restlessly while balancing on his toes. I was happy to hear that he could start the job so soon. Most people who cut trees are backed up after a storm like this and not easily available.
The next thing I remember we were discussing the contract and it was settled that he would start with the job the very next day.
When I came home from work the next day evening, the broken branches from the three impacted trees had been removed. Pleased with the progress made, I sat on the deck drinking some Darjeeling tea and reading the newspaper.
As it grew dark and I was ready to go back inside, I took one last look at the woods. I was surprised by what I saw. A red fox with a long bushy tail was standing on a mound looking at the burrow where the turtle had laid the eggs. The pointed ears moved. Something had caught its attention. It pounced on something in the dark. I heard a growl almost like a muffled cough.
The fox must have come for the turtle eggs.
It was a long moment before the fox leapt back into the woods and I heaved a sigh of relief - mixed with the heavy feeling of not being able to protect the turtle eggs.
It was hard to tell in the twilight but I believe I saw a familiar looking golden chain around the fox’s neck.