Thursday, December 22, 2022



What follows is my holiday story.

I recently finished an intriguing crime story with roots in Minnesota lake country history. It involves a fox. Human inter-relationships with the natural world, especially animals, is a long and varied story.  Mine is much shorter. Years ago I used to walk early in the mornings of spring and summer and early fall. I walked in a nearby park, quiet, thinking about the coming workday. Once morning a silhouette on the hill caught my eye.

I stopped, noticed a grey fox hunting in the tall grass about fifty yards away. She stopped and looked at me, then went back to hunting. I saw her a few more times that spring and then she was absent. Weeks later she’d given birth and the kits became ambulatory.

I saw her with them and she watched me carefully while she gathered and led them away. But almost a month later, she introduced herself. She came to the edge of the path and watched for me. Carefully, slowly, always aware of where she could run. I stopped in the path and looked at her. She looked back.

The next morning, she again sat at the edge of the path. When I approached within about ten feet she stood and preceded me along the path on my twenty-minute walk until I turned back to return to our house. The relationship lasted almost daily for a few more weeks until late fall. The next spring, there she was again, waiting beside the path. I knew it was the same fox because of a scar I saw on her left haunch. Our relationship lasted for another spring and summer.

Another winter passed and one spring day I walked that path. There on the hillside was a grey fox. The grass was already thick. I stopped and turned slightly toward the hillside. The fox stood up and just looked at me for a moment. Then it turned and loped away. I’ve never seen a fox near that path again, though I’ve walked it many times. That last time was more than twenty years ago.

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