Saturday, August 13, 2005

All Of My Relations

Today I went to a small, local neighborhood festival after working a few hours in the morning. They had the usual items you'd find at a festival or carnival, rides for the kids, tents with little knick-knack items for sale, and of course, food. Before I headed for the food, I first wandered about through the various tent booths, and eventually came upon one representing the state Division of Wildlife. They had a number of skins; foxes, moutain lion, bear, skunk, and so on, on their table, along with literature on regional wildlife (these animals had been killed by cars). I talked with a gentleman at the booth about my own experiences with the local urban foxes in the area, and he told me that several other people had come up to him, and had mentioned the sighting of our neighborhood foxes, either at early morning, or at dusk. In our conversation about our local, urban foxes, I relayed to him the following story, taken from my own experience.

About a year after I had moved to the place where I now live, I had discovered in early spring that a group of foxes were living under a garage/storage building on the property. What I now know is that they had at some point dug under this building a natal, or birthing den, where a pregant female would come each spring to give birth. I don't know for how many years this situation had previously existed when I stumbled upon it, but in doing some research, I learned that fox natal dens have been know to be in continual use for as long as 200 years, a long span of time in the cycle of birth and regeneration. They have come again each spring, at least for the last four years now, to give birth to a new generation of foxes, staying for a few months before moving on, and in this time I have come to make friends with many of them. I have come to truly care for these animals, although many of my neighbors do not feel the same on the issue at all! This had led to some uncomfortable, and at times very tense moments in terms of neighborly relations, but that is an unsavory story in itself for another day. I have done my best, and all that I could, to allow them to live their lives as unencumbered as possible upon our property, and have been able to have close connections with a few of them as a result, at various times.

During the first spring I had encountered the foxes, I would toss small bits of food from the side of my porch when they would be out of their den, in the early mornings, or later towards evening. Over time, they came to recognize me ( as the food man), so that eventually many nights when I'd come home about 8pm from work, they'd just be coming out of their den, and the mother would let her little ones come up to me and smell at my feet and ankles, and then look at my hands to see what I had brought for them that day ( and I always had a little something for them). All of this was occurring about one block from a fairly busy street intersection, but this property, on the corner of the street, is also up on a little bit of a raised hill; set up and away to some extent from the bustling street. A perfect, tree-lined oasis within the city for urban foxes, and other animals.

One morning soon after I had encountered this family of foxes, which turned out to be 7 in number (two adults, and five little ones), I happened to be out on the opposite side of the house from the fox den, when, as I turned the corner, the female was coming at me with two or three little ones from her brood. We ran into each other by accident, and startled each other. I ran back into the house to go and get something for them to eat, and soon came back out again with a few hot dogs. As I turned the corner once more, I tossed over to the little brood a few cut up pieces of the hot dogs. The mother was just beginning to trot away with her little kits, when she stopped, taking careful note of where the pieces had fallen, and then she looked back over her shoulder, directly at me, for quite a long time (it seemed). There was a sense of something there, a sort of silent communication that went on for some unknowable period of time. She and the kits then went on along their way, and I turned back toward the house.

The next morning, it may have been a Monday, I was heading out to work, when as I entered out the door, and upon the front outdoor porch, I noticed something laying there which at first greatly startled me. After I focused a little more clearly, I could see that it was a wing, no actually two wings, of a magpie (the black and white birds), lain very neatly upon the porch at the top of the step, with the two wings perfectly folded together, as if they were two hands folded together in prayer. A breastbone connected the two wings as they lay one upon the other, and no other part of the bird was attached, solely the two perfect wings. Now foxes, and other wild animals, typically have no problem mangling their prey as they take from it what they need, and in this case they also took from it what they needed, yet these wings, as I have said, were as perfect as if they had just been plucked directly from the poor magpie itself. Right away, I knew who had left these perfect wings upon my porch, a little mother to whom I had provided a bit of food for some of her progeny. I do have to say, that this was perhaps one of the most spiritual experiences of my life, and something also that I will almost surely never forget.

In the past, I had at times imagined and fantasized about having a close experience with a wild animal, or animals; I'm not sure why, perhaps it is because of my Native American heritage (my grandfather was Apache, so the family lore goes), a connnecting experience with my wild brothers and sisters, but I had never really and seriously thought that it would ever come to pass. Some people perhaps, will not be able to believe this fantastical and transcendent tale. I however, know it to be true. And now, the fox has become my brother, and my sister, and I watch out for him and for her, and for all of their fellow relations, and I believe that they too, and their fellow relations, also watch out for and over me.

Mitakuye Oyasin! ("We Are All Related" - Lakota Sioux)

6 Comments:

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4:26 AM  
Blogger willowtree said...

Foxes?
You know I cant even comprehend seeing a fox much less feeding a fox. Hey, Im a city dweller, we have rats and subways here. Most of the foxes I know walk on two feet.
It's a really good story though, one to pass on to your kids and grands.
I remember once coming home from school a very long time ago, we saw two dogs on the side of the road. One was dead, and the other was digging a hole beside it. The lady that we were with was so touched that one dog was providing a burial for the other dog that she pulled over to the side of the road and started crying.
Animals have kindness too hmm? It's a very nice thing to think about. Very touching in a way. It's a possiblity that a human being wouldnt be so nice back to you.
Animals being kind or having such thought processes is not something I often think about because I am so terribly frightened of them. It's not normal "being scared", Im just terrfied.
My mom would tell me that when I was a very small child, I loved cats and dogs. She couldnt get me to stop loving, and petting other peoples animals, I loved them so much. Then one day, a dog bit me.
I dont remember it, but I guess my mind does. I sure am terrified of animals. We used to have birds and fish though. I wasnt terrified of them.
I would say you are lucky not to have neighbors like mine. :) Do any of them feed the foxes too?

4:47 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

I saw am amazing documentary once on the compassion of animals. A mauled praire dog was shivering in its hole, in its last, final minutes. The rest of the family, one by one, came over to it and leaned heads together with the injured one, a final bit of communion. It was incredible!

I was bit too by a dog when in about 4th-5th grade, and I was terrified of this little pack in the neighborhood. On the other hand though, I also grew up with dogs in the family, and like people, they all have different personalities. When they know you, they love you unconditionally; they would die for you in your defense if they had to. I wish I was there to help you get over the fear of animals, especially dogs. It is so rewarding to be able to interact with animals (I especially like dogs). Do you have any friends with little dogs to practice with?

I think of dogs really as just people, with a little more hair on 'em, that's all!

With my neighbors, a few also feed the foxes, and others work on ways to drive them away. It's made for some tense situations, but for now they dispersed throughout the area again, until the next spring.

Do you know how to get rid of all these advertisments showing up on my blog? My Leo nature is beginning to be riled! Raaawwwgghhh!

3:24 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

Friends with dogs? Nah, hehe, I do have a friend with a few cats though. I am more afraid of cats than dogs. If I have kids who want pets, I'd be in trouble. I couldnt deny them pets based on my fear. I would rather a dog than a cat though...I think.
You can get rid of the spam by going to your comment page, and then clicking the little picture of the garbage can. It will take you to another page that will ask if you want to delete the comment forever. I think there is a box you have to check. That is how you get rid of them.
In order to avoid...some of them you can turn your settings to no anonymous comments, but you'd still get some spam.
I cant stand the blog spam either, but consider it this way- at least someone/something is visiting your blog. There are blogs that would be jealous of our spam!

3:53 PM  

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