“Hey, where are you going?” asked the rhododendron.   “You.  Yes, you.  What’s going on?”

“Ahh…. I’m just hunting a little”, said the sleek looking fox.  “You know a girls got to eat.”

The plant replied, “Tell me about it.”

The fox paused then and peered closely at the plant.  “You’re a bush, right?”

“A bush?  Please.  That hardly does me justice, friend.  I’m a flowering plant.  In fact, I have my own genus.  I’m a rhododendron.  I am both a shrub and a tree.  I am the state flower for 2 states: West Virginia and Washington.  Plus, I’m the national flower of Nepal!  I go by Rhody.”

“Oh, nice.  Good for you.  OK, sorry to bother you, but I gotta run,” said the fox as she began to slink away.

“Hey, don’t go yet.  Sorry to go on like that, I am trying to be more self-aware, but I’m not always successful.  You are a fine-looking creature, if you don’t mind me being so bold.  What’s your name?”

The fox stopped again and sighed.  She got that a lot, but this plant seemed different.  “My name is Phyllis, but I go by Phyl.”

The plant responded quickly, “With a Y, right?”

“Correct,” said the fox momentarily distracted by the young chipmunk at the base of the elm tree.

“So, you’re new around here, Phyl. Right?  Your coloring is so, so vibrant.  I know I haven’t seen you before.  I know everyone around here and I can say, I’ve never laid eyes on you.”

The fox sat back on her haunches, resigned to the fact that any hunting was going to be delayed.  But Phyl was a very kind, patient fox, so she acquiesced.  She relaxed into the moment, smiled and turned her full attention to the talkative Rhody.

“I live in Yamouth but last week I decided to check out this area.  I heard the rabbit population is booming on the upper cape.”

“Oh, man.  You got that right,” said Rhody excitedly.  “You wouldn’t believe how many are around here.  Throw a stick in the air and it’ll surely land on one.  There’s a whole family living over there near that scrub pine, and that path over there near the oak tree; that’s like an expressway. Tough to get across sometimes.”

Phyl looked around the clearing and chuckled, she enjoyed talking to this clever, personable plant.  Rhody seemed to have this positive energy flowing out of her and was a wealth of information.  Most forest inhabitants did not share much with strangers.

Phyl looked more closely at her, noticing the shiny leaves, the profusion of buds and her full shape, almost like an upside-down tear drop.  Not very woody either.  Many forest plants had more wood than leaves.  Rhody was perfectly balanced in her natural state, which was rare out here in the woods.

“I gotta tell you Rhody.  I’ve never met a plant like you.  You seem so centered.”

“Hey thanks, Phyl.”

“Tell me, Rhody.  how do you do it?  You’re sitting here on the edge of this field, by yourself no other rhododendrons around and yet you exude this palpable energy.  Your vibration is so high.”

The plant beamed. “So nice of you to notice and say that, Phyl.  You know, I really don’t feel alone.  I love being on the edge of this field.  I’m in this cool place, between the woods and the field.  I think it’s called the liminal space.  A border and boundary area.  A lot has been written about the liminal space, I’m just grateful to inhabit it.”

“Anyways, I have to tell you about my friend, Donna.  She walks out here all the time.  She has this high-energy canine.  His name is Bullet, he’s one of those mixes, a golden doodle.  Smart as a whip.  You can tell just by looking in his eyes.  She just says his name, and bam, he’s right back by her feet.”

“I agree with you, those poodle dogs are wicked smart,” stated the fox, “I’ve encountered a few over the years,” she added, thinking back to some of the more memorable close calls.

“But I digress,” said Rhody.  “It’s not Bullet that has such an effect on me, it’s his mindful master, Donna.  Every once and a while, when she’s out here walking, she pauses in front of me and takes one of my leaves in her hand. Then she caresses it and takes one of my branches in her other hand.”

“Really?  I’ve never seen a human do that.”

“Oh, man.  She is a conscious being.  She totally gets it.  As soon as she touches me, I get this warm, tingly feeling spreading through me.  I feel lighter, like I could float away.  I become fully present, fully alive. I can tell the moment she sets her intention.”

“Intention, what do you mean by that?” asked the fox.

“Her intention.  She is deliberately reaching out to the universe, inviting it to bring its positive energy into me.  I can tell man, the moment she does it.  It’s like, you know that special feeling, when the sun comes out after a spring rainstorm, and you feel your whole self, stretching up to meet those warm, golden rays?”

“Oh, yeah.  I know what you mean,” said the fox nodding her sleek head.  “Like, when the harvest moon is rising over the tree line, and the warm wind from the south is ruffling your fur, and the tall grass and trees are swaying like they’re slow dancing, and everyone in the forest comes out to hang out for a while.”

“Exactly.  But even better than that, man,” said the plant, beaming broadly now.  “Like that, only times five!”

They both paused then.  Enjoying the connection, their shared experience.  Letting the moment expand.

The plant broke the silence, “Hey, so I’ve kept you here long enough.  I can tell there is a lagomorph in your future.  You need to eat.  Thanks for stopping to chat, my new friend.”

Speaking thoughtfully, the fox bent her head down and replied, “It has been my sincere pleasure, Rhody.  I hope you get many more visits from your friend, Donna.”

Phyl stepped up to the plant and nuzzled Rhody’s leaves ever so lightly.  Then, turning quickly, she trotted into the forest.

They both continued being.