The sun is hot behind the bamboo shades on the front porch. A breeze swings them back and forth barely reaching me. Usually, this is Flo’s territory. But Minnie is uncharacteristically stretched out next to me on the wicker bench, encouraging me to write.
I just finished reading Fox and I By Catherine Raven. It stirred something inside of me and I know it will stay with me for a long time.
It’s the story of a woman who prefers the company of the natural world to people. The story of a biologist’s friendship with a fox.
This is not a fairy tale. Although as Raven suggests might be the stuff of myth.
It took me a while to get used to Raven’s use of language. Her writing slowed me down, made me pay attention because it was poetic and at the same time precise and accurate. The imagery that she created in her writing was beautiful, honest, and captivating.
Because she is a scientist, Raven struggles throughout the book not to anthropomorphize Fox, while at the same time seeing him as an individual with his own unique personality. By the end of the book, I had no doubt that she and Fox had both experienced the other as a friend. Not in the way that Disney would portray it, but as two different species choosing to spend time together. Each benefiting, in their own way from the relationship.
“Our actions, not our words, built our trust in each other, and we based our relationship on shared activities, not dialogue. In fact, I was more relaxed communicating to Fox than I would have been with a person. Consider how difficult it is to communicate when our tongues send us in one direction and our feet take us in another.” C Raven
Fox And I left me with the possibility of seeing and communicating with the natural world in a new way. Not that I’ll be looking to make friends with a wild animal, but that I don’t have to stay within the confines of what I have been taught or read about nature. That if am less fearful and can open my eyes and heart and am honest about what I observe, I can have a relationship unique to me and the animals and plant life that I interact with.
Catherine Raven had the courage to step out of the “mold that society had designed” for her. She chose a hand-made life, one that she created for herself. Where she can be both a scientist and friend to a fox.
I admire and am inspired by that.
“I knew for sure I had not chased down our friendship. My attempt to objectify Fox as a research subject had failed; my attempt to extrapolate him into a generic and impersonal animal had backfired. The more I watched him, the more I understood him and appreciated his ease of living; insight became empathy. And empathy, I am convinced is the gateway to friendship.” Catherine Raven Fox and I
Anne and Kitty still come when I call them, and I think they always will. They come looking for food but hang around for a while even if I don’t have any. As long at they’re together, I can still tell them apart because Anne is smaller and the pink around her face is lighter. I don’t know if it will stay that way, but I hope to be able to keep distinguishing them from each other.
Fanny and Lulu always stand guard for each other when they take a dust bath. Lulu was a bit impatient with Fanny at the end of her bath, nosing her to get up.
This time of year, when the insects are out in swarms, the donkeys and sheep will often rest with their faces in the corner of the barn to protect them. Merricat found a good spot, away from the bugs behind the gate on the pole barn.
She looked pretty pleased with herself.
I met my friend Kitty at the Bennington Museum this morning. We were there to look a the sculpture park which is full of new art. It was inspiring.
When I got home I started working on my fabric painting, A Forest In My LivingRoom, that I started some time ago. I had a good sense of what I want to do with it, but couldn’t get started.
That changed today. I finally feel like I’m ready to work on this piece and am excited to get back to it on Monday. Today I made the rug in front of the pink couch.
I used a piece of forest green fabric and stitched a vine and flower pattern on it. Then I sewed it onto the backing and stitched the tassel on either end.
Next, I let the vine and flower pattern grow off the rug and onto the backing….
I stopped before the vine took over. I’ll be adding other elements to the piece (like a table and lamp with a bird on it and a tree or two) and I wanted to leave space for them. After that I’ll get back to the vine.
This is what the fabric painting looked like when I left my studio this evening.
The other day I put up a video of the chicks grooming our sheep Constance. Today one of our Pleco’s was grooming my Mystery Snail Socrates. Socrates didn’t seem to notice, but the pleco got a meal out of it.
I dreamed that there were wolves at my door.
It was a glass sliding door with a screen. And the glass part was open just enough for one of the wolves to come through but the screen was closed. There were two brown wolves, showing their teeth on the other side of the screen.
A friend who I haven’t seen in a long time was visiting and she closed the door.
But I opened it again. I knew I should be afraid of the wolves but I wasn’t.
I went back to my studio after dinner and continued designing potholders that I started this morning. I still have a couple of pig heads and some chicks, but I’m done for the night.
The stream is flowing right over the Gully Bridge. My boots have a hole in them so my feet get wet, but the cool water feels good. Over the bridge, mud sucks at my feet till I get to higher ground.
Moths flutter furiously like an early-winter snow flurry. I can’t tell if I’m disturbing them or if they’re just constantly in motion.
My path to the little waterfall is blocked by the top branches and leaves of a maple tree that came down in the last windstorm. It’s too hard to climb over, and I wonder if I will come back with a clipper and bow saw to clear it away or just make a new path. So many trees are down, dead ones mostly.
I detour up the small hill and when I look up I’m faced with a dark archway of earth.
A Shagbark Hickory toppled over roots and all. Where the tree once stood there is a depression in the earth with about six inches of crystal clear water in it. I wade in the water to get a closer look at what used to be under the ground and is now visible. Earth, rocks, roots, insects. The mosquitos biting.
A small birch toppled over by the stream and I pulled it back up, hoping it will stay. I wish I could do the same with the hickory. I begin to wonder what it and the area around it will look like as the season’s change.
Mushrooms are everywhere. I take a few pictures of the most interesting then spot the Indian Pipe.
Ghost pipe (also known as Indian pipe) isn’t a mushroom. It’s a flower that gets its nutrients from the fungus in the ground instead of through photosynthesis. That’s why it’s white not green.
Fate led me out of the wood on a different path than usual. The ground cover was low and I didn’t have to duck under the arch of the Japanese Honeysuckle. This new way also took me past the Witch hazel tree which I’ve been watching with each season. I now has the seed pods which will burst into little yellow flowers in the fall.