Bunsa saw the movement from the corner of his eye. Although there was nothing in these woods to harm him, an occasional highwayman could catch an unaware traveler. The forest was quiet and cool, and the sun beat on the path where Bunsa walked. He was not usually given to fancy imagining, but it seemed to him, that path was like his future: sometimes clear and sunny, sometimes disappearing around the shadowy bend of the mountain.
Here it was again! Bunsa turned quickly and just managed to see a small fox lightly running among the trees. It was more gray than orange, the tail with it's white tip held cheerfully straight out. As pragmatic as Bunsa was, "Kitsune", as the fox is called in Japan, was too strong of an omen to ignore, especially, taking into consideration the task for which Bunsa traveled to Nagano. A bride was waiting for him there, and the foxes were rumored to have an ability to assist in the matters of love. Was it a good spirit? Did he mean to trick Bunsa, or to become a faithful companion? Bunsa walked off the road, sat in the shade behind an ancient tree, took off his hat and wiped the sweat from his forehead. He untied the kerchief from around his neck. Folded in it was all the food that he had left: three rice balls. He called out into the forest: "Kitsune-san, kitsune-san, come and have a meal with me!" Nothing happened. Bonsa saw some movement in the greenery to one side. He broke a piece off a rice ball and threw it there. Judging by the rapid scramble in the bush, he understood that, the fox accepted his offering. Bunsa thought of a poet Issa's verse: "peeking out from the willow tree... face of a fox". He threw some more food to it, then ate one rice ball himself. It was so pleasant to sit there, with the rough bark of the tree at his aching back. Eventually, he slid down and closed his eyes.
When he came to, the birds were picking what was left of his last rice ball. He sighed and got up. What was he thinking? A fox was not going to help with his problems! Before Bunsa went around the bend, he looked back: the fox was nosing around in the place where he slept. Then it sat up and watched Bunsa go. The fox's small open mouth and crafty, squinted eyes made it look like it was smiling.
To be continued...
|My husband's ancestor,|
Bunsa Toyoda, on whose
life I based (more like made up) this story