Summer Storm
By: Joey Maxwell

It seems that when a storm comes, the whole land anticipates its arrival. The water buffalo lay down on their knees in the fields, the women in the rice paddies gather their tools and head back towards the village. Birds gather in the trees above the gardens and groves, their songs quieting, only to give way to the soft jingling of temple chimes as the wind comes, snaking and eddying around old crumbling statues and shrines that have seen more than their fare share of the raging heavens over the long years.

But to some the coming storms would excite a raw sense of wonder and awe. The little fox pup scrambled up to the top of the hill at the forest's edge. From that vantage point he could view the surrounding terrain that seemed to spread out forever. A land shaped and formed by the exhistence of the humanfolk. He closed his eyes and sighed into the wind as it worked its way through his black fur and flew out before him to the rolling planes. The bamboo seemed to bow before it as if in homage, bending their backs under a greying sky.

Then it came, and the little one held its breath as he heard the rumble, low at first, rolling its way over the clouded sky like the ominous growling of a tiger. It came louder suddenly, a sharp report that reverberated through his small chest and lit up the sky like daylight, causing him to jump and puff his tail out like a frightened cat. What followed was a soft hiss as the rains began to fall in slanting arrows to the ground below. The water gathered in pools and rivulets in the nooks and crannies in the ground around his paws, and he watched as it flowed down the hill to the fields below. It did not matter to the little fox that his fur was soaked, making him look half his normal size. He delighted in the rain and rolling thunder, and frolicked in the puddles and pools that it created. He sat contentedly for quite sometime, creating small boats from fallen leaves and watched as they sailed down the hill and out of sight in the steadily flowing water.

The little fox continued like this until the storm blew itself out and headed over the plains and off to sea. He sat there and watched it leave, flicking his sodden tail and whining softly as if mourning the departure of a dear friend. He had always gained some sort of security in the storms, as violent as they tended to be, for they offered him a comforting sense of security. To him it was as if something or someone from above was always watching him the way members of a pack of dogs would watch a valued pup. A benevolent and soothing sort of presence.

As the pup watched the storm recede off into the distance, he failed to notice the soft footfalls of the older fox approaching from behind. In fact, even if he had been listening, it would have been hard for him to detect the subtle and many times inaudible steps of his older brother, especially if he was not in the mood to be detected. Soon the little pup felt the gentle nudge of a nose against his shoulder, and turning around sharply with a soft yelp he saw his older sibling and proceeded to curl up under him. The last vestiges of wind caressed his molten silver fur and played around the nose of his younger brother as he peeked out between his paws.

They stood there for a long time, watching as the sky cleared and the sun began to pierce daggers of light through the tattered clouds above. They watched as the buffalo lazily got to their feet in the fields, and the worker women returned from the village to reap their harvests, and soon their old folk songs began to drift on the air mingled with birdsong to caress and delight the ears of the two foxes as they watched everything come to life below and around them. And strangely, the whole land about them seemed to celebrate the comings and goings of the storm, and the little pup delighted in this. Delighted in the little things in life, as well as the big ones that seemed to go on around him everyday. He was still quite young, and the world was still a new and wondrous thing to him. Not only the world around him could he see, but the world in the wise and learned eyes of the older brother that he, like the storms, took so much comfort in.