Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fox Bark

Screaming. I wake up. Heart in my throat. I wake up and I can hear a woman screaming outside in the night. I’m alone. Stuart is away on business and Jennifer has a sleep in shift. What do I do? A woman is screaming and I am alone. Wait. As I wake up, I realize what it is. It’s a fox. In Tucson in the early morning I would often wake up with my heart thumping at dawn to the sound of rabbit screams as they were being killed by coyotes. I had been told that fox barking could sound like screams but this was the first time I’ve heard it. (If you have Real Player you can listen to a red fox barking here) So far, I’ve only seen one fox here in London. I was walking home at night and we saw each other at the same time. He was larger than I expected. We both froze, and then he glided into the front garden of the house we were standing in front of and disappeared. It felt like I imagined him. There is something magical about seeing a wild animal in an urban setting. It also is rather sad. My apartment in Los Angeles was walking distance from Griffith Park Deer would sometimes wander down to the parking lot at the AFI, and you would often see coyotes skulking around the Hollywood streets. One night, I noticed what I thought was a new cat hanging out outside one of the apartment buildings on my street. There were always three or four that lounged around the front door. When I got closer I realized that it was a skunk that was hanging out with the kitties. Walk away. Just walk away. On the list of bad things that can happen to you, getting sprayed by a skunk comes just after getting cut up into tiny little pieces by a serial killer. My friend Nanci’s cat was sprayed and her house reeked for weeks. If you even drive by an area where a skunk has sprayed the smell will waft into your car. When you go hiking in Los Angeles (yes, there is lots of hiking in Los Angeles) there are signs warning you about mountain lions. Attacks are rare, but have been known to happen. Back to foxes. . . There was a lot of hoopla about the banning of fox hunting in this country. I’m all for it. It isn’t as if you eat the fox. There doesn’t seem to be any point in it. The population is self-regulating depending upon the availability of food. While I must admit when I walk outside and I see that a fox has ripped into one of our trash bags, I do curse them for a moment, I think hunting them is wrong. At his flat in Brixton, Stuart used to have a fox that would hang out and sleep on the front step. This last September when he was walking home one night, he saw three foxes together-- which was really unusual since they are so solitary. He got the bright idea to chase them away. One ran down the street, one bounced straight up into the air over the wall into a front garden and the third got pissed and rushed him. I’m guessing she must have been a vixen and the other two had been her babies. I told Stuart my theory. “Well Thomas. When it’s dark and it’s chasing you down the street, you don’t really think about that .” It never fails to make me giggle. . . imaging Stuart running down a dark London street lined with Victorian houses, waving his arms in the air like Kermit The Frog, a red fox hot on his heals.


At 3/07/2006 06:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL about Stu and his Foxes..
Gary has had a coyote follow him from work when he walks. What I remember about the Tucson coyote is that when they got a rabit the rabit sounded like a baby and that was upsetting as hell. Remember when Gertie would chase them away from Candy-Sweet but crazy dog that Gertie


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