February 4, 2010
Well, I wish I could tell you that I was absent from this blog due to something either exciting or eminently worthwhile, but the fact is, I just got lazy. I took the last month off…..from everything. I stopped painting too. I used the time to engage in some self-examination. I asked a lot of questions, both about my own life and its purpose, and about what I need to do from here on out to feel more accepting of the insanity that is unfolding all around us. I finally had to admit to myself that our government is so broken, so perfectly manipulated by the special interests whose only goal is to make money, that it seems foolish to hold out hope that a bunch of professional politicians will suddenly begin doing the right thing, the honorable thing. They will keep right on making sure of their own job security as they do the bidding of the people who are strip-mining the American middle-class of its wealth and vigor. I have seen this happening for so long that I have become bitter. I have struggled and now I have finally given up hoping that it will change. I believe it is simply human nature, in its most raw form, taking care of business….literally.
This afternoon I put on an old camouflage parka and a camo fleece hat, and went up in the woods nearby, which is pretty easy, since this part of the world is pretty much ALL woods. I walked up a snowshoe flattened trail in the snow and found a boulder pile that had a place where I could stand and blend in, exposed only from the chest up, but with a view in all directions down through mostly hardwoods. I pulled out a cheapie predator call and began making my best approximation of the sound of a rabbit being killed. It sounds pretty terrible, and I actually did hear a rabbit making such an agonizing cacophony when I was a kid, so I know how to imitate it. This echoed down through the woods periodically, for a couple of minutes, pausing for a few more, then repeat. During the pauses, I peered into the trees. From the steam of my breath, I knew that the breeze was almost calm, but still moving gently.
This went on for a period of about thirty minutes, and suddenly I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I slowly turned my head and saw, not the coyote I had been expecting, hoping to see, but a red fox, in prime winter coat. He was ghosting along on the crust of the snow without a sound. And he was headed right for me. When I first saw him, he was maybe eighty yards away. At forty, he made a left turn and moved at right angles to me, looking intently for the source of the ‘dinner bell’ he’d heard. I thought he was on his way out, but he reversed course and moved back across in front of me. I was watching him with 10x binoculars all the while. I could see his grey mustache and his intent expression. His coat was the color one paint-maker calls Tuscan Earth, very orangey but still red. He had grey counter-shading below, jet black busy legs, and a brush streaming out behind that would have looked fine on a much larger animal. He was truly magnificent. At about that point, I believe he either got a whiff of my scent, or realized that the now feeble sounds of my calling didn’t ring true. He never took fright, nor looked at me directly, but he headed for other parts in his steady gait. I pocketed my call, knowing full well that if ol’ Red was in the hood, that Wiley and Co. weren’t. Foxes and coyotes don’t get along. At least, I have never seen any evidence that they do.
As I slowly walked toward the car in the twilight, I realized I had just been given a fine jewel of a gift. I have seen plenty of foxes, some of them on the wrong end of a gun. I am a country boy, and in farm country ol’ red is usually only seen in the act of nabbing some chicken take-out, of course. But, today was different. I saw a small, utterly beautiful and wild animal making his way in the deep Maine woods. He was going about being a fox, and all that this entails. He was a set of highly honed senses in a stunning package, making his life as best he knows how.
I do not know what form it will take. And, it may just be a shift in my attitude in the end. But, I want some of what that fox has in my own life. Naw, I ‘m not goin’ back to the land as a primitive hominid. But, somehow, some way, I am going to bring a touch of that creature’s wildness, his pure acceptance of being what he was born to be, and doing it well….into my own life.