This is a flashback, cut from Love at First Lilt. Carly is remembering her mother, who died when she was a teenager.
When Carly was twelve, there came the night of the first spring full moon. It was a crisp white host held high in a deep black, star-studded sky. Her mother had packed a picnic dinner, and the two of them had set out on an evening hike.
The winter had been warmer than average and most of the snow had melted. They wore rubber boots, jeans with thermal lining, parkas, and hand-knitted wool hats and mittens. Carly’s mother carried their meal and a thermos of hot chocolate in a knapsack.
When the sun dropped below the horizon the temperature cooled. Vapor puffed in front of their faces. Her mother’s brown cheeks and the tip of her nose became rosy, and her straight, black hair fluttered behind and around her. She’d reminded Carly of Disney’s Pocahontas that night.
In silence they’d hiked to the edge of a small wood. Beneath the arching branches of an early budding willow tree, they’d laid out a thick brown blanket. After they’d eaten, Carly snuggled into her mother’s arms and they waited.
It was the father fox who stepped from the woods first. He sniffed the air, his red coat rippling in the breeze. She’d smiled up at her mother, who’d known they’d be downwind.
Her mother tipped her chin toward the old fox, who yipped toward the wood. Seven kits, tawny colored, with brush strokes of red on their ears, touched tiny paws to the dew-wet grass outside the wood. One, bolder than the rest, ran to the father and bit the tendon above his right hind foot. The others followed, tottering and tripping, until all were dancing around their dad. He nudged one forward and toppled another, and soon the cubs were chirping and chattering in a game of keep-away-from-dad.
Carly covered her mouth with her mitten and giggled, and her mother kissed the top of her head.
Whether it was the motion of kiss or the sound of the giggle, the father fox froze and stared toward the willow, a regal statue from the tip to tail. The pups rolled to their feet and watched their father. He yelped a series of loud warnings that tapered to a cry. Run, run, runnnn, he yelped, and the tiny ones scampered to the trees.
Then, only when they were all safely gone, he turned and followed.