One morning this week, as Vickie and I were having breakfast, I looked out the window and saw our neighborhood red fox furtively gliding through the woods. He disappeared behind a brush pile and after a few moments reappeared, nimbly climbing onto the top of the pile to inspect it. After looking the pile over and noting whatever it is that foxes note he descended into the pile.
The neighborhood fox is missing his tail. I wonder what that does to a fox’s self-esteem. Does it make him (or her) even more reclusive? Is he now the Howard Hughes of foxes? Is he ashamed to be around other foxes? Can he go home on holidays or has his family disowned him? Is he eligible for special Federal assistance?
Perhaps he’ll soon appear on a talk show and recount the traumatic tale of the tail? There will be other foxes there that have had similar experiences for support. A veterinary therapist will be present to facilitate discussion along with the Fox Whisperer.
The first time I saw a fox a friend and I were walking in the woods after school. I was in the sixth grade and attended the school where my mother taught in Wheaton, Maryland; the friend’s mother also taught at the school and so we’d spend time together after our classes waiting for our mothers to finish their work before heading home. Out of the corner of my eye I caught movement and then into full view the gray fox came, he was on the other side of a ravine, moving steadily with eyes darting this way and that. His appearance was brief; he was there and then he wasn’t – but how neat it was! Why is it that the elusive can be so intriguing?
A few years ago I was on an early-morning motorcycle ride in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. The road was quiet from Becket to Chester to Huntington; I turned off Route 20 in Huntington onto a road taking me out into woodlands…all was quite…my bike, a Honda Magna, hardly made a sound…it purred…neither the bike or I intended to intrude on anyone or anything, including the quiet of creation.
As the early-morning sun was breaking through the trees I rounded a curve; in the middle of the road ahead of me a red vixen and her kits were running around in circles and jumping on each other. At my approach momma herded her babies into the woods but not before that picture of joy was impressed in my heart and mind. It was a moment of beauty, a moment of joy, a moment to treasure – one that is still with me.
Had I seen the mother and her kits in a zoo I would have enjoyed them, but encountering them serendipitously was altogether another experience.
When we lived on the Zuck Homestead we also had foxes that we’d catch glimpses of from time-to-time. The Homestead fox that I remember well was one I didn’t see but rather heard; in fact we all heard it. For a few days a cry of pain came from the woods behind our home, a cry that carried down the lane on which we lived. Alice called Vickie and asked if she would venture into the woods with her to find the fox and help it – their search proved futile for as soon as they entered the woods the crying stopped.
Vickie did an internet search, found a fox expert, and emailed him about our concern. It turns out that we had nothing to worry about, it wasn’t a cry of pain but rather a vixen telling her kits that it was time to leave the den and venture forth into the world – our concern was a common one to those unfamiliar with foxes.