During a morning last February, Steven dug through snow to exit his den. After his eyes adjusted to the arresting light from the white fields, he saw Lisa for the first time. She was hunting. Her nose and ears were directed downward. She moved gracefully above the ground as lightly as if she were floating. He noticed her fur was mostly gray like his own. There were touches of orange behind her head, along the sides of her belly, and beneath her tail. Her tail had a black stripe along the top like his own.
Lisa froze appearing to hear something beneath the snow. She repositioned her body and put tension in it like a spring. After a moment of calculation, she pounced and poked her face into the snow. By her reaction, she missed her prey. The grace Steven witnessed when Lisa was stalking left. She dug frantically through the snow. As she flung the white powder back, it stuck to her fur like cotton. It also covered her muzzle and gave her the appearance of being rabid.
The vole Lisa hunted made a navigation error during its escape. It popped out of the snow and into plain view. Steven spotted it, but Lisa was too flustered to notice the fur ball in the snow. The vole looked around trying to gain its bearings. While the handful of fur sat in the snow overthinking its next move, Steven sprinted toward it. The vole saw Steven and began to scurry for the cover of a fallen log, but it had reacted too slowly. Steven captured it.
Steven trotted to Lisa with the vole in his snout. He stopped in front of her and offered it, but she did not notice. She continued to dig through the snow to find the same vole. Stephen waited for a minute, then gave a low bark to get her attention. It startled her. She leapt back and glared at him for causing her to jump. As she looked him in the eye, she noticed the wiggling vole in his snout. Her stomach growled loud enough for Steven to hear it.
Steven bowed his head slightly feeling sorry for Lisa, but also amused by her at the same time. He tried to tell her with his facial expression that the vole was for her. She appeared to understand and responded that she would not take it. So, he opened his snout and the vole leapt for the ground. Lisa’s expression changed from pride to panic as she watched it scurry back into the snow. She leapt for it, but it was gone.
Highly irritable from her hunger, she pounced on Steven and bit his shoulder. He yelped at the aggressive bite. Lisa held his body to the ground and waited for him to retaliate, but he did not. After it was clear that he was not going to fight back, she felt badly that she had knocked him to the ground and had bit him. She slowly got off of him and backed away with her head bowed.
Steven stood up and walked out of the impression they had left in the snow. He walked over to Lisa who was not looking him in the eye anymore. When he was next to her face, he shook off the snow that had stuck to him when he was on the ground. She growled, and he ran.
Lisa was disappointed as she looked up and saw him run away from her. He galloped across the field of snow and dove into an evergreen tree. She expected to see a cloud of snow fall as he went into it, but he did not disturb a single needle. A disinterested gray fox would have looked away, but she watched the tree hoping. Then, he jumped out from the upper half of the tree. As he trotted back, she noticed a bird in his snout.
Steven stopped in front of her and told her with his facial expression that the bird was for her. She understood. She stepped forward, took the bird from his snout, and stepped back. She looked at Steven with gratitude. Then, she opened her snout and let the bird fly away.
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