Mr. Fox
(updated)


James L. Cowles



 
© Copyright 2020 by James L. Cowles


 
Photo of a red fox.
 
Everyone has experienced moving, either to a new apartment or home. Those who live in large cities know how different areas of a city can be and if you desire to get closer to nature, you need to do a little research before moving. We moved into a new home a few years back and immediately fell in love with the location of our property. It’s in a beautiful area of our city, with a creek running along its boundary and it sits next to a densely wooded area. There are also two beautiful man-made lakes at the entrance of our subdivision adding both beauty and habitat; they are alive with all manner of wildlife, which is exactly what we wanted.

The large parcel of land on which our new neighborhood was built was once a tree nursery and as such, fostered many mature trees scattered within its boundaries. These were obviously trees which never sold, but now offered an array of charm and beauty; they included elms, red maple, pin oak, southern magnolia and many other varieties. In fact, all the beautiful trees were the feature that attracted us to the neighborhood to begin with; we wanted trees in our yard and we’ve got plenty of them.

The land where our neighborhood sat for several years prior to development, with all the trees, the creek and of course, high grasses and weeds, created an abundant space for wild life. For several months, our house was the only one in the immediate area and we were treated to encounters of all kinds of God’s creatures, roaming right around our new home. Sure, we enjoyed watching the builders erect new houses where new neighbors would soon live, but we enjoyed the animals much more. I recall one morning when we awoke early and looking out our bedroom window, we saw five deer grazing on the new lawn of a house which had recently been completed. I could not help but feel a pang of guilt; it was not they who were encroaching, but rather it was us humans who were spoiling they’re habitat. We were slowly driving them from this plentiful wild life sanctuary.

I know this is not uncommon. I have read numerous stories from all parts of the country; is it any wonder we see so many animals killed on our streets and highways? Still, many of these beautiful creatures seem to refuse to be driven out and who can blame them? Raccoons aplenty still live in our neighborhood and I suppose they always will. Possums are common place as well and our dog gives them wide berth, even though they truly are very gentle creatures. They sure look menacing when they bare their teeth and if I were a dog, I’d not want to get into a fracas with them, large or small. In fact, all our dog Missy ever did was bark at creatures, except for squirrels of course, which seem to always want to play. She wisely avoided extensive investigation of the animal population and I’m happy for that, believe me; there are many skunks in our neighborhood and we often smell their spray on warm summer evenings. Apparently some of our neighborhood pooches were learning the hard way.

Naturally our lakes draw the attention of ducks and geese and they have apparently become a favorite summer home for several flocks, but I suppose the funniest thing that happened to us occurred one warm summer evening. We had gotten into the habit of taking our dog out to our front lawn, off leash, letting her do her final bit of business before bedding down for the night. Although it was often midnight of after, she couldn’t resist walking down our sidewalk, going several houses away from us. She seemed somewhat leery of going beyond a certain border, simply because she thought one of us should be right beside her before she could safely continue. She would often stop and look back as if saying, “Hey guys, what gives. Come on, can't you catch up?” This particular evening Teresa had taken Missy out and decided to stay close to her as she roamed and sniffed. We always dutifully used a plastic bag to pick up the presents she left on our neighbors lawns, so Teresa wanted to stay close so she could spot the inevitable remains. They had gotten to the corner of our yard, when Teresa noticed a dark figure on the back of our neighbor’s driveway. Later, she said she was sure she had seen the outline of a fairly good size dog, standing about sixty or seventy feet away from her. Darkness covered the creature pretty well, but doing what she thought was needed, my bride scolded the animal; “You go home now. Do you hear me? You go home,” she instructed. But the creature just stood and stared at her as she spoke. Fearing it might run and attack our dog she picked up our little cock-a-poo and continued telling the unwelcomed animal to “go home.”

I was inside on this warm summer evening; it was Teresa’s turn to take Missy out for that last potty run and suddenly I heard a scream, certainly loud enough to wake the few neighbors we had. I rushed to the door to see what was happening. Amazingly, none of our neighbors heard Teresa let out that ear-piercing scream, but the poor animal she saw heard it and finally reacted as any creature would. He (or she) took off in a flash. By this time I was standing next to Teresa, asking her what the heck happened? The creature was nowhere in sight. She said, “We saw a wolf, or something and I yelled at it, ‘go home,’ but it didn’t move and I began to see the outline a little more clearly. It was a wolf, or a coyote,” she said. Well, I knew it wasn’t a wolf. We live in a superb of Louisville, Ky., nowhere near wolf territory. However, I thought it could have been a coyote and although we had never seen a coyote anywhere near our place, we had heard reports of someone spotting one on a road near our house. We headed back inside to talk about it and as Teresa continued describing it, I began to think, “She saw a fox.” That made sense; they love fowl and our lakes are always full of the delicacies foxes naturally crave; plenty f geese and ducks. It was that little bit of “red” she said she saw, or maybe it was “orange,” she said. Although it was too dim for her to get a perfect view, it was sounding more and more like she was describing a fox.

The next day, as I sat in our family room talking to a friend on the phone, telling him what Teresa had experienced, I was looking out our front window and suddenly the most beautiful red fox came running down a neighbor’s driveway from across the street. It crossed our street on a dead run and headed down the sidewalk in front of our house, headed right toward our lakes. Maybe the sidewalk seemed like a convenience to him. It was just so funny seeing him use it much like a human would, as his means of conveyance. I was sure his mind was set on making the four block trek to the lakes to see what was available on the lunch menu and this appeared to be the perfect pathway. Could he be thinking, “Wow, this will take me right where I want to go.”

Talking to myself, I said, “I have to tell you, Mr. Fox; you were a pleasant interruption to my otherwise lazy afternoon. Your beauty is astounding and I feel a bit of pride that I was right about you. You would never attack humans and you really want no part of a dog; you don’t need the annoyance.” So now we could add a red fox to our growing neighborhood of wild life and of course now add a red fox in the number of critters for which I felt sorry. Oh sure, I could see he was adapting; maybe even teaching others how to cope. He used man made walkways for movement and it was not in the dark of night, it was early afternoon; he seemed to prefer daylight hours now and perhaps no longer felt the need to lurk in the darkness. I’m pretty sure Teresa will be glad for that.

We later learned that our new neighbors were throwing out corn and bird seed on their driveway and geese and ducks were landing there to partake. Our Mr. Fox was merely scoping out the area, determining where he might hide during a future hunt. “Well Mr. Fox, you need to know this; it is I, we, who are encroaching more and more on your home and I sure hope we can be successful co-inhabitants. I marvel at both your beauty and your stamina and I would love to have the opportunity to talk with you one late evening, just as Teresa did, or perhaps a special lazy afternoon like this one. One thing for sure; I promise I will not tell you to go home. No, no, Mr. Fox; instead I will beg your forgiveness for moving in right next door to your banquet table. “




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