The very best part of this incredibly long and taxing day was an extraordinarily unexpected surprise which greeted me this morning at 7 when I swung by the Carthage library to pick up an opera DVD I needed for my class. Something caught the corner of my eye which it appeared at first to be a dog – an uncommon sight on the Carthage campus, but hardly worth a blog entry. But then I looked a little closer and realized that it was beautiful fox. . . gliding along with that special grace that only foxes have. Our campus has been home to a small family of foxes for the last several years (there have been repeated emails from the business office, imploring students to leave the foxes and their den alone, and thus far they have) but I had yet to see any of them with my own eyes – until today. It was such a lovely surprise – and all the more delightful because it was something I was enjoying all by myself – not another soul was anywhere around. It was just the Fox and me. And it was nice that the fox did not seem the least bit scared of me, but just kept trotting along at an easy- going pace, in no particular hurry to get where it was going, which gave me plenty of time to grab my camera and snap a couple of pictures.
(This is two mornings in a row that I have seen something unexpected. Yesterday morning, after I parked and got to the bridge I walk across every morning on my way to the music building, i realized that two Canada geese were crossing the same bridge that I was, and taking their own sweet time about it. They were darling. )
My encounter with the fox gave me just the bit of added lift that I needed for what turned out to be one heck of a tough day. Some of what made it tough was actually exciting – like the unexpected opportunity to interview NPR foreign correspondent Julie McCarthy. (That was fun – but so scary, too. I really wanted to do a good job.) Some of what made it tough was unpleasant surprises like the technical difficulties I had (AGAIN!) with the video projector for my opera class. . . which meant that I couldn’t show any of the videos or DVD’s I had and had to rethink the whole class period on the fly and teach Verdi’s Otello with nothing more that an audio recording. (Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh ! ! !) And at the end of a long day of teaching and rehearsals, instead of curling up on the couch with my wife I headed back to Carthage to accompany a voice recital – – – and then had to practice some of the fiendishly difficult music I will have to play tomorrow at a special recital in Madison. You get the picture- it was one of those days which felt like it was 48 hours long because I had packed a bit too much into the day, and nothing all day long was as easy as it should have been.
What’s odd is how all through this challenging day, I kept thinking about that early morning encounter with that beautiful fox and felt so grateful to have enjoyed such a delightful surprise. Sometimes it is those moments that make us feel especially especially glad to be alive and able to keep the frustrations of the day in proper perspective.