All my years hiking in the mountains of San Diego County I never saw a fox. I knew they were there; people I encountered would say, “I just saw a fox!” Clearly a sign that there was a fox. Most of the foxes up there were gray — apparently but I never saw that for myself. Then, one day, in April, not long after I moved here, I saw my first fox out on the driving range of the local golf course which abuts a few farms. It was a very different April from this one — wet, snowy, foggy. Dusty, Baby Bear and I stood and watched fox move in and out of the fog. When I looked up through the fog, at blue sky that seemed far far away, a golden eagle was circling above.
It was a pretty nice day. I came home and tried to paint it.
I saw the fox a few more times. She/he was very curious and playful and tried a couple of times to interest my dogs in a game of tag. She got in puppy pose like, “And NOW? Do you want to play NOW?” But (thank goodness) she was about 50 yards away and the dogs were leashed. Then some people bought some of that open property, and it got marginally gentrified. The first summer after that, a few trucks that convey migrant farm workers were parked there. The next summer it turned into a mini-mobile home campsite. The grass was cut, the trees trimmed, the roads graded, yada yada and the wild feeling of that small area was gone.
The foxes aren’t gone, however. At times I smell them in the alley and see their tracks in the snow in front of my house. Bear warns them off like she’s supposed to.
In February this year — this strange, too dry, year — Teddy and I were walking at the Refuge, catching a morning snow squall. As we turned to head to the car, a shape came out of the rabbit brush scrub and darted gracefully across the road. Time slowed just enough that, though the creature practically flew across the space in front of us, I could see it was a black fox. Later I learned that in the US they aren’t unusual; maybe 25% of red foxes born are black or have some mixture of red and black fur.
We share our world with so many creatures we never even see.
Yesterday I fought the wind by attempting the annual reclamation of my yard. Here’s what I’m up against: