Monday, October 19, 2009

and then the fox

Driving home past the yellowed corn stalks at dusk, clear sky in the purple east, some things orange clouds in the west. There's a dog in the road ahead, wandering, sniffing things in the road, so I slow down and wait for it. Probably it lives at that farmhouse across the way, just ahead down the road.

But it's a fox. A large male red fox with a bushy white fantail and black paws. Unafraid, as I roll to a stop, it looks me in the eye, then noses the ground again, then walks up the ditch under the cornrows, right past the truck, again looking me right in the eye. Then it goes on up the ditch, still sniffing, as I fumble for my camera, stunned, and miss the photo. Still I sit and watch in the mirrors as the fox moves back up the road, stopping to nose things on the ground, skirling around in circles a few times, chasing up the road, then disappearing around the corner of the cornfield.

One reason I love living out here in the small rural towns is that you get to see foxes.

A mile later, where Turtle Creek oxbowes next to the road, there's a flock of wild turkeys. I think out loud, "Careful, turkeys, there's a hunter just up the road."

Another mile later, a flock of Canadian geese, silhouetted against the fading skylight, pass over the road, honking in flight.

I've spent most of my day quietly, sometimes just sitting on the porch in silence, sometimes reading. I played some music earlier, and listened while making brunch. Then I went out to shop for groceries. I drove home on the back roads, through the fields, most of them now being prepared for winter. Most of the dried corn has been shaved down. Many of the fields are black and fragrant, freshly turned.

I stopped for awhile to stand in silence and watch the sunset. I stopped in a favorite spot where the view is long and wide. A rural road parallel to the interstate, within sight and sound of the trucks and cars zooming by. But there's a silence at the edge of this field. I've stopped here many times for the sunset. I waited, making the occasional photograph, till the sun fell behind thin hazy clouds on the western horizon, filtering the light, like a furnace seen through orange and tan smoke. I drove on home when the light was mostly gone.

And then the fox. It's rare to get that close to a fox, even here. It's even more rare for it to approach so close, alert but unafraid of human trespass. If you hold yourself still, the fox will come to you. I held myself still, behind the wheel of the unmoving vehicle, and the fox came almost to my window, looked at me, and loped on down the road.

Messenger of the wind, unseen, teacher of invisibility and stealth, reminder that to pay attention to what others do rather than say, protector of dens, wily disappearer into the foliage, be at peace, be blessed, and be thanked.

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Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

My parents lived on the edge of the country as do I now and I think I saw two foxes in all the time I lived with them and I'm not actually sure I've seen even one since living here whereas living in the suburbs of Glasgow I saw them padding along the streets calm as cucumbers all the time. I saw a pack of three once too. We did see a couple of deer out of our window a couple of years back - that was a surprise.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

I think it's terrific that foxes were on the Glasgow streets, a bit of the wild in the streets, as it were.

I had a similar encounter with deer a few days ago, when up in northern Michigan. They were right next to the truck, and I had the window down taking photos of them against the backdrop of the autumn trees. They just stood there and looked at me, then went back to browsing the grass. I spent a full several minutes with them. There was no traffic on that road at that time, either, so I may have been the only one who experienced this on that particular day.

Deer are actually overpopulated around here. It's a real problem. A couple of winters ago we had a particularly cold and snowy winter, and it really thinned out the herd. But they're always around, I see them regularly.

1:01 AM  

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