Wednesday snapshot

February 15,2012
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

Last night, when I took Willa out for her after-dinner walk, I stopped at the street corner to take in the sky. I love craning my neck back to see what the tree branches look like against the sky, and whether or not I can spot any stars. We live in an older, wooded neighborhood, and the houses have large lots. As a result, the stars are often pretty visible. On a clear night I can even spot constellations and when it's warm, T. and I lie in the hammock on the back porch and count the stars together.

Last night, a movement caught my eye at the same time that Willa pulled at the leash with excitement. I turned and saw a large fox gliding soundlessly along the road right next to us. I never realized foxes glide, as if on wheels. They move low to the ground, arrow-like, in one continuous flow, like golden-brown liquid poured forth from some invisible cup. He paused and looked at us with glowing eyes, all the while still moving. I felt a flutter of momentary panic. Do foxes attack dogs? Humans? But this fox had other things on his mind, other places to go. He flowed away down the road past us, around the corner, and into the dark.

Only then did I exhale; I'd been holding my breath, and hadn't even realized it.

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When I was thirteen, I started my first paper diary. I kept one for years, until I was 31, and then I stopped. The books are kept stacked in a piece of  cupboard-like furniture in my bedroom, and from time to time I like to take a volume out--if I need to "fact-check" a memory, or merely if I am feeling nostalgic and want to reconnect with a part of my past.

My job with Family Education is drawing to a close--after over four years! The site is moving in other directions, and discontinuing the blog feature. I've been spending lots of time clicking back over four years' worth of posts. My first thought: look at how much I wrote! My second thought: do I have copies of it all? I'll probably use the space here in the time remaining to revisit and repost favorite pieces from years ago--taking them out again for an airing one last time.Virtual cupboards, alas, are not nearly as solid and enduring as those wooden ones.