Reading Fox And I

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

3 thoughts on “Reading Fox And I

  1. I think that you have that kind of relationship with the animal and plant kingdom already Maria:) I see it in your movie clips and writings. Sometimes it is how you approach a situation. I came home from work on Saturday and my husband said that our older dog had not gone out all day; I tried, thinking she needed to go potty. when I got home I had to go out and pick tomatoes and water the poultry so I asked her if she wanted to go with me and she did; not questions asked. Female touch/approach or her bladder was ready to break. (smile)

    1. That’s interesting Marsha. I do see this kind of response from the sheep, maybe because they are the animals I least expect it from. Something to pay attention to.

  2. I had my first encounter with a small skunk a few nights ago. After I got over my surprise, I was mostly curious. It kept backing up and inching forward again, almost like a dance. At no time did I feel I was threatening or in danger of being sprayed. (naive on my part?) Happened a few feet away from my front door. I did stay a healthy distance away.

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