FOX DIARY

October 12th 2021 , 4.30ish pm

Dusk, a tub full of freshly picked Autumn raspberries, a warm moody sky, and you appear out of nowhere!

You must have jumped the 8’ high fence, as there you are, to the left of me, the fence on my right, on the top path. Our eyes meet; I am transfixed. I do not want to miss a moment.

You break the stare first; on a mission, you are distracted by something stirring amongst the sage bushes; the sideways movement of your head is almost comical, like a cat at play…perhaps you are playing?

I stand stock still; you respond by feeling at ease, sniff the air, and search amongst the foliage for morsels to eat. You descend into the patch of Chioggia beetroot. Now I can see the full length of your body, your majestic bottle-brush tail balancing your every move.

I know where you are going, and feel pleased that today I have facilitated this feast for you. A newly uncovered patch of compost, from my compost bin, succulent with worms, is your draw. You head that way, as I expect. I dare to turn my body to look, and catch a glimpse of you busying yourself digging down into the rich dark treasure.

November 19th 2021

I have come up here especially to see you! An unfavourable day in the biodynamic calendar, and with no urgency to pick any vegetables, I know I can give you my full purpose…I just want to see you!

It is an auspicious day, a full moon, with a partial eclipse in the Southern Hemisphere; warm, still with no wind, with a temperature of 13 degrees and a cloud streaked sky. It’s about 4.30pm.

I scan the field, but, do you know, you always surprise me? I don’t think I would have caught sight of you had you not moved swiftly through the dead grass (which, by the way, is the same colour as your coat in the fading light)

You do that thing of bounding across the plot, and then turning to give me that full-faced, orange and white stare of yours. There is a gauze fence between us, and we hold each other’s gaze for a few precious minutes. This time, I break the ‘fixed look’, but not before I whisper a few loving words your way, so I hope you catch my drift. I want to let you go, so that you can continue to forage.

Maybe, next time, I’ll have the courage to sing to you?

I’ll have to find a suitable fox-themed song … one that does not involve hunters and hounds!

December 31st 2021, 4pm

My yearning for you never ceases.

I always arrive here, up at the allotment, hopeful that I will see you, or, at least, see evidence of your presence. Two days ago your footprints on bare soil betrayed your existence; this week a fellow allotmenteer saw you early morning!

I know that winter must be a tough time for you, food may be scarce, but who am I to say this? Rats and pigeons are plentiful; worms are driven to the surface by this incessant rain! Perhaps I am wrong to assume that you are struggling? It is unseasonably warm too, at 14 degrees! We have not got the harsh winters of yesteryear, although that may be still to come.

I am heartened by the fact that you are still around, that you can manage to cross busy roads and survive the rigours of this crowded modern life. It is such a joy to be able to write about you.

It is dusk. I am sharing my intentions with friends, and explaining my resolve on this providential Eve. We exchange salutations, best wishes and hopes, building excitement by the promise of a New Year, happy to leave behind the shocking sadness of events from the past.

The pink sky throws a giant counterpane over the vast field, tucking it in, and keeping it safe for tomorrow and a New Year. I turn to lock my shed, and notice that the old boots placed by my hut, next to the Japonica, are no longer a pair! One wizened woody rosemary branch, which I quirkily place inside a boot, has been playfully tossed aside!

One boot remains visible; where is the other? For me, this is the sign I have been waiting for! ‘Foxy’! You have been doing what foxes do!!

You have (I imagine) picked up the gnarled and twisted stick, played with it, and then discarded it, in favour of the sumptuous leather-smelling boot. You then have carried or dragged it (is quite heavy, especially when wet) to another part of my plot!

I declare my excited response to Sam, and he is immediately drawn into the search for the missing boot. Sam finds something, and says, “Is this what you are looking for?” There it is! … discarded, on what I determine is a regular foxy route through my Autumn fruiting raspberry patch.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

I’m glad you feel safe here, to have fun and to play, that you follow your natural inquisitiveness and sniff out interesting objects that take your fancy, in this small space of mine. It makes me smile and gives me both thrill and comfort to know that you are still here.

Now, my year is complete.

Ianthe Pickles
Lives in Liverpool
Worked for 37 years as a full-time Primary and later Secondary/Special School teacher and college tutor.
“Writing (especially poetry) was often a release during emotional and turbulent times in the 1980s working in an area of severe deprivation and unemployment in Liverpool. 
When life gets out of control, writing can often help it make sense.”

 

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