Fifteen feet from a fox

About a month ago, I stood within about fifteen to twenty feet of a wild fox behind my backyard during a snowstorm – the closest I’d ever come to one of those sleek, elusive creatures, even though many of them live in my neighborhood.

That afternoon, I went to let our two smaller dogs, Charlie and Molly, outside, and both dogs ran to the edge of the fence, barking. I followed them and looked down into the little greenspace behind our backyard. It’s like a tiny valley with four huge pine trees on a hill in the center, and several of the houses on our street back up to it. And this is what I saw.


I dashed inside to get my camera and crept through the gate and along the outside of the fence. Tiptoeing down the hill, I edged closer and closer toward the fox. He had just caught a squirrel and was eating it.

Once I had gotten within about fifteen to twenty feet of him, I could hear bones crunching every time his head bent down toward his meal. Something shivered inside me to see a fox eating his latest kill, but at the same time, the wind rustled through his silky fur while the thin veil of snowflakes fell between us. He was beautiful. I wanted to reach out and stroke his burnished fur, but did not dare.


The last two pictures I took as I took a couple steps forward are my favorites. In the first one, his molten brown eyes gazed at me as if calculating precisely who I was and what my purposes were. Snow sprinkled on his back like glitter.


In the second one, he licks his lips almost like a dainty aristocrat wiping his mouth after dinner.


Then I took one step too close, and he sprung up the hill above me and settled down to finish his meal and observe me. In this shot, my neighbor’s house is in the background.


I felt inspired and awed at the same to stand so near a wild thing, and I feel like a poem about the experience is brewing in my mind. It’s not something I’ll forget quickly, if ever.

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