It's late Autumn now and the wind stirs the scattering of brown, red, orange and yellow crunchy leaves, as well as his long, grey fur. It rouses excitement in his young chest and his tail swishes, awaiting adventure as always.
Beneath his paws, growing bigger by the day, he can feel the gravelly dirt against his pads. His claws, long, yet gently worn owing to hours of tumble and play, flex in this dirt as he poises himself to move.
It's getting late in the evening and the sky above is a canopy of stars against a bottle of upturned ink. The pack have recently eaten and, with full stomachs, they will soon return to their den to rest.
Now that the evening temperature drops so suddenly, the pack will pile even closer, a tumble of limbs and fur. Cozy. Comfortable. Safe.
The pack is gathering together and makes its careful descent along the track they have well-trodden. Under branch and over root, chasing leaves and the tails of his siblings, Wolf learns by play. Rough and tumble, following scent trails, falling and clambering back up.
With gentle nips at his haunches and heels, the older pack members reel him back in, protecting him from harm. He's learning from their example all the important things. Where to hunt, how to be silent, when to pounce, when to play.
The howling begins, and this too seems to stir his fur, flecked silver now by the moonlight. The answering call is clear; all members are returning home safe following their days of wandering.
Society. Safety. Happy and whole.
This is all Wolf has ever known.
He settles down to rest, a heavy, sleepy head dropping on to tired legs with his older brother laid snuggled by his side. Amber eyes form crescents as they begin to droop, slowly, slowly, until all is calm, and the only noise is the steady breathing of a pack at peace.
I wonder if wolves dream? I hope so. Dreams of endless play, full bellies and warm places to sleep.