Red fox

A bitter morning walk along the river brought little in the way of interesting images. Indeed, at times, my eyes were streaming too much to even see.The promised snow started to fall in the middle of the afternoon, soft and gentle but unrelenting, most of its force spent in the south and west of the country. I sat at my desk and wrote a report, keeping half an eye on the bird feeders which were exceptionally busy. A male blackcap from northern climes discovered that he very much liked pastry, and defended the scraps that we had moulded onto a twig against all comers, staying close by until dusk fell. At tea break I stretched my legs and went into the other room; looking out of the window I saw this young fox busy eating peanuts that we'd scattered on the ground. It was in glorious condition, two-thirds grown with a thick lustrous pelt and bright eyes. Here it's eyeing up a black tom cat that has absorbed our garden into its territory. I felt so privileged to be close to such a magnificent wild creature. The following poem seemed appropriate.

Red Fox
By Margaret Atwood

The red fox crosses the ice
intent on none of my business.
It's winter and slim pickings.

I stand in the bushy cemetery,
pretending to watch birds,
but really watching the fox
who could care less.
She pauses on the sheer glare
of the pond. She knows I'm there,
sniffs me in the wind at her shoulder.
If I had a gun or dog
or a raw heart, she'd smell it.
She didn't get this smart for nothing.

She's a lean vixen: I can see
the ribs, the sly
trickster's eyes, filled with longing
and desperation, the skinny
feet, adept at lies.

Why encourage the notion
of virtuous poverty?
It's only an excuse
for zero charity.
Hunger corrupts, and absolute hunger
corrupts absolutely,
or almost. Of course there are mothers,
squeezing their breasts
dry, pawning their bodies,
shedding teeth for their children,
or that's our fond belief.
But remember-Hansel
and Gretel were dumped in the forest
because their parents were starving.
Sauve qui peut. To survive
we'd all turn thief

and rascal, or so says the fox,
with her coat of an elegant scoundrel,
her white knife of a smile,
who knows just where she's going:

to steal something
that doesn't belong to her-
some chicken, or one more chance,
or other life.

Thanks so much to all those who gave yesterday's waxwing stars and hearts. It's always so wonderful to receive these, especially when I've been largely absent from commenting. There seems to be such a lot going on at the moment...

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