Foxes set up kit-making and housekeeping in a den behind our house again this year. Last year, three kits scrambled around. This year, two kits tumble over each other, already growing long-legged.
Their den is in the woods not far from our yard and garden, beyond a patch of weeds and across a stretch of sand. On a recent hot afternoon, I saw a kit stretched out on the sand, sleeping or half-sleeping, soaking up the rays.
A naturalist and his class make arrangements to stop by one evening and see my wild neighbors. Before they arrive, I’m reading outside when my friend stops by. The foxes appear. Near my garden, the neighbor’s gray cat watches, too, in the disdainful way cats do so well. My friend and I marvel at the juxtaposition of wild and domestic, and then the foxes scamper away. We’re knitting and talking when the others arrive. Not on the human agenda and with other things to do, the foxes do not re-appear.
Besides myself and my daughter, I’m not sure who else has seen these foxes. I’ve witnesses these creatures roll over each other and hunt baby woodchucks. They’ve doubtlessly seen me wander about, doing my garden chores. For long moments, we’ve stared at each other over that distance of milkweed and pin cherries, sizing each other up as a potential threat. Each of us appears to have drawn conclusions.
When the naturalist and his companions disappear, I’m slightly sorry they haven’t met and admired the foxes. But there’s also a part of me that relishes this secret world, this relationship devoid of human words.
Last…. here’s the essay I finished reading just before my friend appeared. This is from the final essay (‘On Becoming an American Writer’) in Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.
‘Only in America do we ask our writers to believe they don’t matter as a condition of writing… To write is to sell a ticket to escape, not from the truth, but into it… All my life I’ve been told this isn’t important, that it doesn’t matter, that it could never matter. And yet I think it does. I think it is the real reason the people who would take everything from us say this. I think it’s the same reason that when fascists come to power, writers are among the first to go to jail. And that is the point of writing.’