As he continued to look me straight in the eyes with those vertically shaped pupils, the thought that he might have rabies crossed my mind. The fox was close, only ten feet away. He exhibited no fear but may have seen the questioning change in my eyes. He snorted and continued on his journey. What aloofness!
Another time, winter was upon the land. Two feet of snow blanketed the ground and was still falling. As I watched the soft descent of huge snowflakes, a fox came stealthily into the yard. He paused, tilted his head with those large pointed ears to one side, listening. With an explosive leap into the air, he landed on his front feet with his head submerged in the snow. When the fox pulled his head from the snow, a tasty mouse morsel was in his mouth. The cunning hunting tactics of foxes has helped them survive on every continent in the world.
Once I saw a grey fox on a limb in a tree in the woods that surrounded my house. Trying to identify it as a fox was almost unacceptable until I learned that the grey fox has retracting claws, just like a cat. And like cats, grey foxes climb trees.
The saddest fox sighting was of a starving, blind fox who walked the highway and back roads in the area where I lived. I tried to carry some food to throw out to him. He had no fear or caution because of his handicap. I saw him many times for two months, so thin that his ribs could be seen through his fur. For sure, he was not consuming the two pounds of food per day that he needed to survive. Most foxes weigh about the same as a cat and like humans are omnivores.
I wondered how the fox became blind since he was fully grown. He would not have survived the pup or kit stage if he had been born blind. Had he been poisoned? The final image of the fox was his pathetically thin body plastered flat on the highway. It looked like an empty pelt. I felt sad and helpless, feeling I should have done more.
These fox sightings and encounters occurred in Maine where I lived for many years. When I returned to my childhood home of Posey County to reside, no foxes were in evidence. It crossed my mind that human population and farming may have pushed them out of the territory. My theory was proven wrong.
It was a lovely spring day. I was taking Mother for a drive in the country. As we were driving slowly up a hill in the Caborn area, a vixen crossed the road with her four kits tumbling behind her. It appeared she was changing residence, traveling away from an old barn. Red foxes dig dens that can have burrows anywhere from eight to twenty+ feet long before reaching the larger den area. There are two entrances. They will move their kits if the den is disturbed or threatened.
We stopped the car and watched as the vixen gave directions with coughs and a wow-wow-wow vocalization for the kits to hurry—at least it seemed so. When they disappeared into the trees both Mother and I felt joy and gratefulness for this gift.
At a teacher workshop I attended many years ago, a Native American gave a cleansing and spirit animal presentation. When she asked each of us what animal came first to mind, I replied, “A fox.” She told me that I would have to be a very strong person to have a fox for a spirit or totem animal.
The symbolic meaning of having a fox totem is that it gives one increased awareness. It allows one to see through deception and gives one “affinity with nocturnal activities and dream work”. Perhaps a fox is my spirit animal. How does one know? Anyway, I find them to be fascinating creatures with a great sense of humor. I always feel blessed when I encounter a fox.
©Ann Rains, September, 2017