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.
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 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.
Our fish tank is constantly evolving. This weekend it got a makeover after dealing with an algae problem and having the tank all but empty of plants for a month.
We got some new fish, snails, and shrimp along with the new plants. Everyone is so much more active and they look happier to me.
But I may be protecting.
I have to admit went the tank was so bare, I lost interest in watching the fish and snails. But now I can’t keep my eyes off it. Maybe it’s me who is happier, but I’d swear the tank has a new and vibrant energy.
Socks took the lead today going out to the pasture. It was a foggy morning. The grass is lush from all the rain.
We got the rest of our hay this morning at 8:30. I did all the stacking while David who grows the hay and delivers it threw it from the truck. David has been experiment with growing hay without fertilizer for years. The donkeys came running when they saw his truck and let out a big bray. They know they’ll get whatever I rake up from the barn floor after the hay is stacked.
It’s getting harder and harder to tell Kitty and Anne apart. But Kitty is still a bit bigger and the red around her face which will grow into her comb and wattle is darker.