“A Long Winter’s Nap” A True Story for the Winter Solstice–2017

How long is a century in dog years? Or wild fox years? For longer than that, our neighborhood has encircled and contained the non-human natural world. Around our house, the landscape is filled with the super- and infrastructures of the human-built world: houses and classrooms and churches — streets, streetlights, and pavements; telephone poles and fences; storm sewers, pipes for gas and water, deep cables for fiber optics — all these engineered things tangle above and below the surface with the living systems of tree roots and microbes and earthworms, with shrubs and grasses and weeds, the flying insects and those that creep and spin, perennials and annuals with their brief or buoyant blooms, and the ambitious vaults of tree limbs limning cryptic script against the farther light-and-dark, weather-inflected unfolding meaning of the sky.

This inter-twinement intrigues me. Once a baby rabbit came into the basement. We’ve had mice and bats enter the house. Insects of course. Humans and dogs and potted plants come in and out.

For the most part, our back garden at this time of year has seemed very tame indeed. Here is a recent photo on a cloud-filled day.

Thanks to the long lens from my sister, though, I am occasionally able to capture unusual sights in this familiar space. Last April, I captured images of roosting wood ducks–the first sighting of this species ever, for me. And then, last Saturday, I caught sight of something even more rare. I was able to spend an hour recording it with several hundred photographs. Here is a condensed flip-book of that encounter.

I could not believe that I was seeing an actual fox (rather than a corgi), and one with a glossy coat and a healthy full tail. And then something even more amazing happened.

Foxes are nocturnal. Yet, at high noon on this cloudy December day, one took an hour-long siesta near our arbor vitae. Then, rested and refreshed, it stretched and went on about its business.

For me, this proves a lovely daily truth–when one wakes up in the morning, one never knows what amazing thing will happen. No day is truly like any other. And I am renewing my vow to keep my eyes open!

Wishing you all the comfort and joy of the season!!!  LESLIE

 

8 thoughts on ““A Long Winter’s Nap” A True Story for the Winter Solstice–2017

  1. Leslie! Wow! Wonderful photos and story. I am just now reading through a backlog of emails and am so excited, and a little fearful for Peanut, that you had this experience of the wild in your own back yard. I’m reading a book I read in college and that is one of Spencer’s great guiding books: Gary Snyder’s PRACTICE OF THE WILD. It is chock full of wisdom but I think his main message is everywhere is wild. This post suggests that! What a rare treat that perhaps isn’t that rare because it takes just this to open our eyes, right? Wonderful.

  2. Oh, that is a wonderful story, Jeanie! And I can just picture the fox in the shadows of that little bend in the creek behind the garden.

  3. How lovely! I love all of these photos and your comments!
    I’ve only rarely seen a fox. The first time I brought my parents over to see our new house, we surprised one who was napping in the backyard. He looked at each of us and then silently disappeared right in front of our eyes!

  4. What a wonderful piece of writing that surprised me on this Solstice day! There are foxes that live behind our house, and I’ve occasionally seen them. This spring there was a couple sauntering through our yard on a regular basis, but none of them has ever lingered in my view and taken a nap. So glad you were able to witness and record this blending of natural and town life!

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