th-5One grey day in the frozen depths of winter, I saw a flash of gold in the woods behind our place: fox!  It moved with a wonderful fluidity and sense of purpose, but wary and close to the ground. Later, my husband thought he saw it again —disappearing down the old woodchuck hole in the underbrush — but then months went by without another sighting.

We consider foxes a blessing. Whenever they’re on our property, the woodchuck population drops precipitously. Whether the foxes eat them — or just scare them off — it’s hard to say. But we do know they tend to repurpose the woodchuck burrows for their own dens. It was heartening to see one apparently scouting out a new home in a known woodchuck neighborhood.

My heart sank in mid-April when I spotted a woodchuck waddling in a proprietary way along the border garden. Sure enough, the next morning, my early tulip shoots had been gnawed down to nubs. I planted the pansies anyway, resigned to the fact that the woodchucks would consider the freshly filled urn their own personal snack bowl. So I was surprised when the pansies were left untouched for a whole week … then another.

imagesThis past weekend we discovered why: four fox kits gamboling in the sunshine not far from the woodchuck hole that had clearly become their den. Then we saw the vixen, standing on alert nearby. When she spotted us, she barked — yip, yip, yip, yip — as if counting her young, and they all tumbled back into their hole.

Here’s a poem about foxes which I think beautifully captures their solitary natures.

by Caki Wilkinson
The yards grow ghosts. Between the limbs and wings,
bleached street-lit things, I’m best at moving on.
Hunt-heavy, gray, slunk overlow like so
much weight got in the way, my shape’s the shape
of something missed, flash-pop or empty frame.
Though you could say I’ve made a game of this,
and though midtrickery it might be true,
when evening lingers in the key of leaving
my senses swoon. A synonym for stay,
I’m always coming back. I chew through traps.
I love whatever doesn’t get too close.
I wasn’t able to get close enough to the fox and kits to take photos without scaring them.  I “borrowed” these shots from the internet.  The shot of the kits, especially, is remarkably close to what I see through my binoculars.
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11 Responses to Fox

  1. Roger Rosenthal says:

    We used to see some foxes at our house in nearby Red Rock NY that we sold. I was always impressed by their intelligence. I remember a few times a fox and I would just look at each other, taking each other’s measure in a leisurely sort of way. The fox would let me get fairly close to it, and unlike most animals, seemed to know when I got too close. Also I noticed that you never see a fox hit by a car there–another sign of their canny ways.
    Those kits are very cute!

    • Liza says:

      Such an interesting point that you never see foxes hit by cars. One the other hand, there are woodchucks galore!

  2. Leslie Gold says:

    Coyotes in Riverside Park, Battery Park City, Queens…and foxes up by you…doggy blessings in abundance.
    If you do manage a photo of that fox or any of the little ones, please post it!

  3. Lenore says:

    My husband and I live in Promised Land, Pa. We are surrounded by state game lands and two beautiful lakes! The larger lake has a road that winds around it’s perimeter and on that road is where we saw 3 kits and mama. One ran to her, the second to a dugout close by and the third posed. I managed to get a picture of the modeling kit, but we had to leave because “papa” was bringing in dinner! What a wonderful experience to see them!

    • Liza says:

      Promised Land sounds a little bit like Paradise. It would be great if you could send the photo of the “poser”!

  4. Emily Gyllenhaal says:

    I agree to see one makes you feel lucky, almost like we really are the intruders.
    Once when I was 8 months pregnant and we were at Montauk Point. We came upon a family staring at us as they crossed the street (we were in the car). My husband and I got out to get a closer look. I recall they startled and it felt like they were moving towards us. My husband ran and I waddled slowly back to the car. I never let him live that down!

  5. Ana Veciana-Suarez says:

    I used to see one in the early mornings (around 5 a.m.) strolling about our suburban neighborhood in Miami. It would bark every time it saw me. Funny little bark. One afternoon we caught the same gray fox sunning on our pool patio. It’s been a couple of years since the last sighting and I suspect some neighbor called animal control to take it away.

    • Liza says:

      My brother used to live in Coral Gables and would see them frequently. Such a wonderful sight, but it must be so startling in a suburban setting. I love the image of the fox taking a break by your pool!

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