Red fox

Reading in bed last night, I heard an animal scream — repeatedly. The sound came from the “croquet court” or the area between the house and shed #1. I could not see anything from the window, and when I heard the sounds again they came from way back in the woods. I was pretty sure the sound was that of a red fox.

This afternoon I had the wit to check the snow that has not melted in that croquet court. Sure enough; there were red fox footprints — cat paw like marks all in a line. I liberated this image from the web. And here’s a recording from YouTube; only the first few seconds apply.

This is the first evidence of red fox in years. It almost makes up for the loss of both bee hives this winter.

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Disaster — in the form of weak hives invaded by wax moths — awaited, I was certain. So certain that I called in a veteran beekeeper to help me open my hives. True, bees were flying in and out of both hives but this summer challenged my sub par beekeeping skills more than ever. First, …

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Winslow Homer, Fox Hunt, 1893

Its face hidden, its ears up, its tail bushy, its fur rufus, the fox by the side of the road had been hunted down by a car not a crow. But its resemblance to Winslow Homer’s painting was otherwise unmistakable.

Possums and raccoons disgorged by traffic are troubling to me only for their gore. I have no further affinity with them. But the past week has been fatal to many of their elk expanding my interest to wonder whether fall is a particularly lethal time for animals with crepuscular habits perhaps because dusk settles in at at the same time as drivers are rushing home after work.

The death of the fox was troubling not for its gore, which I barely noticed, but because I knew it from Homer’s painting. Admittedly, Homer’s fox is not yet dead, but the anticipation of its death is palpable as it struggles through deep snow with crows ready to attack should it succumb. The fox dead on the road might also have been on a desperate mission to find food or shelter — one that drew it out of the relative safety of the meadow and onto the road. As with Homer’s painting, I’ll never know, but I won’t forget the image.