A couple days ago my husband and I took our dog on a morning walk through a neighborhood on Cape Cod. Most of my attention was focused on keeping our sniffy dog from pausing in the road, so my husband’s hand signaling me to halt startled me. “Look,” he said. “Right there.”
I looked. Across the street stood a red fox, his fur a pale, shining burnt orange, right in someone’s yard, in the open. he knew we were there. And he stared straight back.
I’ve been reading a few books (see, I can bring it back to books) specifically on crows and other corvids, but aside from those birds one thing the authors commonly bring up is the way wild life almost inevitably intersects with human life. On this short visit to the Cape I’ve seen it several times, with the rabbits calmly munching grass while a party goes on over a fence, the sea gulls weaving between beach chairs and umbrellas searching out potato chips, a trio of crows perching on a wire outside the window, their close calls cutting through TV noise. And a fox, standing in a yard, watching you.
I’m relatively certain I’ve seen him before on other trips to this spot, slinking between fences as we drove the car at night, somehow dog-like and cat-like all at once, and again from a yard down the street, watching me, assessing minutes before I noticed him there. (The dog, meanwhile–thankfully–oblivious, scratching through pine needles.)
Each time I see him I’m shocked — but why should I be? This was once a forest and parts of it still is. There are rabbits, squirrels, so many chattering songbirds, there’s plenty to attract him. But I”m always surprised to see he’s decided to stick around, and also that no one has decided to chase him away. Or worse.
When I see that fox, head low beside the trees, I’m awed. Just like I am whenever something wild appears in a time or place unexpected.
Do you ever see wild life in a place you think of as decidedly not wild? What do you think? What do you do?