For several years, when I’ve sat outside my back door after dark, gazing up the length of my rambling garden into the long grass and the shadows around the distant outbuildings, I’ve often been visited by a fox, meetings I’ve recorded on this site at least once before. This creature has sometimes chosen to get to within three feet or so of where I’m resting in my chair, before sitting down in an unhurried fashion, wrapping its tail around its haunches and staring silently at me for a few blessed minutes, before eventually rising once again and slipping away into the “foothills of the night”.
After each magical visit, I’ve found myself slightly out of breath, possibly because I was subconsciously holding my breath for fear of making a noise, disturbing the creature and thereby breaking the spell. However, I’m more inclined to believe that being in the presence of one of Britain’s most iconic and demonised wild animals is akin to a religious experience, as far as I’m concerned, but I can only speak of how I feel after such encounters.
Earlier today, on May Day afternoon, I was preparing a meal in my kitchen when my son Jack softly called my attention to a previously unseen vision, that of a large fox quietly climbing the steps into my garden from just beneath the window where I was standing. This fantastic creature then stared through the window at us, seemingly without a care in the world, just three or four feet away.
I quietly urged Jack to get his mother and sister from the front room, so that they too could see and share this wonder for themselves. By the time everyone had crept back into the kitchen, our visitor had moved away and was leisurely inspecting some of the higher reaches of our garden, as you can see by the photos that my daughter Tanith took, at the top and bottom of this post.
It so happened that shortly before this creature appeared, in broad daylight, I had learned some dreadful news that brought me to tears, not about my own well-being, but concerning a terrible misfortune that has befallen one of my dearest friends; someone to whom I am furthermore indebted beyond description for their kindness to me, at a time when I needed it most.
The news was so shocking in its nature that I still find it hard to believe, so I was terribly upset earlier, shaking my head and trying to come to terms with the appalling details I’d just heard. Nothing could banish this sorrow, but the unexpected sight of this wonderful fox almost literally coming to visit me could not help but lighten my mood and prevent me from indulging my natural reaction, which was to bury my head in my hands and weep.
Now, I do not know if the fox I saw today is the same creature that’s sometimes visited me by night over the course of the past few years. Nor do I know if it was anything other than a cosmic coincidence that I should see a wild animal that was absolutely guaranteed to lift my spirits, at such close quarters, so shortly after I’d received the worst news I can remember in a long time. Short of letting himself in through the kitchen door, then jumping up on one of the kitchen surfaces, he or she couldn’t have been much closer to me, and I know that they could see me through the old glass from where they paused outside, by a rosemary bush that graces that corner of the garden.
All things considered, I think it’s stretching the bounds of coincidence beyond all credulity to consider that after nearly a decade of living here, a wild animal should appear no more than a few feet away from me in broad daylight, just after I’d been informed of some news that threatened to corrode the soul. I don’t pretend to know what exactly happened in those mystical few minutes earlier, but I choose to believe that some small part of creation was moved by my plight, and sent a beautiful creature as a sign, to console me. It’s possible – though some would say it’s certain – that I was fantastically lucky, nothing more, but either way you look at the matter, life can be indescribably beautiful.