Fox Visitation

26 Jan

I wrote and first published this in November of 2008.

~~~~~~~~

I walk my dog down the acequia now and then. It’s in town, but it’s not a bad walk. It’s pretty nice in a lot of ways – quiet, and the irrigation district keeps it pretty clean. It’s not wilderness, but it’s not bad. I see things, we see things.

Last winter, we saw foxes, down by where there used to be a lock. The gates of the locks on the acequia are long gone, as is most of the cement that used to line it. But at the first lock, there used to be foxes, denning under the uprise where humans made the lock and the little acequias coming out to the alfalfa fields.

We saw them for the first time last fall. Casey would always sense them before me, as he does the deer we also often see down there. I learned over the weeks, and then months, to pay attention to him as he became alert and froze. I learned to see some fine differences in his stance; different when there were birds.

It took me awhile to be able to see the foxes in the brush, as it took me awhile to be able to see the deer. The mule deer stand out at you once you know what to look for. The big ears break up the pattern against the brush, and the eyes.

The foxes are more like a subtle movement, and then a tail. The first thing I saw of them was a tail, and pretty much the only thing the first few times. I thought they were some sort of amazing cat at first, our grey fox here.

There was only one at first, and I got used to looking for him, and saw him about every week. By midwinter, I’d seen two at once, and the elderly local couple I see now and then down there, also told me they too had seen two foxes, wandering in and out of the acequia. They are the only people I ever see down there on a regular basis. They are quiet and like my dog, even though he tries to jump on them. They like the foxes, too.

By then I’d gotten pretty happy about anticipating – what, fox pups? Wouldn’t that be great?

But then, one week in late winter, I didn’t see the foxes. I didn’t see the foxes any more at all, and six weeks or so later, I went by a vacant lot along the acequia a mile or so north, and there were two dry, desiccating fox corpses, lying there in the grass.

I was infuriated and wrote the owners of the property. I demanded they take away these bodies of these persons.

Eventually their maintenance people did, but they took their time.

I was grieved for these fox people all this last year. I’d think about them whenever I took my dog down the acequia. I thought about them today, as we approached the decayed lock, where they used to den.

Walking up to the lock, I thought about how I might write here about this little walk I take with my dog, about how it is quiet, and clean. Not really wilderness, but there are great birds sometimes. Herons, ducks, redwing blackbirds, redtail hawks, and recently a new pair of hawks that I don’t know, but they are thinner winged and I need to learn them.

With this narrative running through my head, I approached the lock, and the narrative in my head reached the point where it said “And there used to be foxes here, until some pendejo killed them…”

and at that very moment, not a minute later, not even seconds later, but that very moment, as if summoned, a grey fox trotted up from the brush, over the dirt embankment, over into the dry acequia, and down it. He strolled around, poked his nose here and there. He did not seem to be too concerned about me or my dog, though he gave us a sidelong glance or two. He spent a good minute down there, before he gave us one more casual glance, and trotted back across the dry ground, and back up into the brush.

It is hard to get these things across, these fine small spiritual moments. Because, how is one to prove them? Maybe I just imagined this whole fox mind thing I experienced. Maybe I just imagined the fox. But how far do you go, with these claims of imagination?

My dog saw the fox, he was very interested in the fox. In fact, he also acted just like he did last winter, when there was another fox, off in the brush, who had not presented herself. He was very interested in that fox today, too. More so than the visible fox, if anything.

He’s lying on a bunched up sleeping bag on the floor right now, dreaming, muttering. We have good weather predicted. There are things we can do, him and me, he thinks, as far as dogs think. Lots of things to do, lots of things to see. Miracles everywhere.

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