Sunday, June 13, 2010

velvet and foxes

I have a friend who spent the weekend in another state, and I received a text yesterday that said, saw a fox!
I was immediately jealous and quite put out. I've been riding all over our canyons and lonely places for years and have seen nary a fox. very little wildlife at all, relative to all of the hours I spend out and about in the early morning hours.
why haven't I seen a fox?
when's it going to be my turn?
my pout lasted about ninety seconds, and then I got on with life.

it rained yesterday, almost incessantly. gale force winds came with it, whipping supple foliage to near horizontal positions and pushing less flexible flora to its limits. it cleared twice, the road just beginning to dry before it all began again. I thought I'd be able to sneak a ride in between the bouts of rain, but by about 9 am I decided I was quite happy to spend the day indoors, working and puttering and watching twigs and branches fly past.
as evening was settling in the rain stopped and the wind calmed, and I ventured outdoors to pick up organic litter from my lawn. two large branches and a quarter thousand good-sized twigs later, my yard looked almost as it had the day before, if one disregarded the thousand bright green leaves scattered everywhere.
therefore, this morning when I woke to the sound of cars driving past on dry pavement, I was determined to jump on my bike before the rain came back.
my knee was hurting a bit and I wasn't feeling terribly energetic, so I decided a wasatch boulevard tour was in order, heading south for twenty miles or so before turning to head back.
I left the driveway and looked skyward---gray and cloudy---then turned my eyes lower, to the tops of the foothills. to the south, unfortunately, I couldn't see the tops of the foothills, as they were covered with low-hanging, damp-looking clouds. to the north things looked brighter and clear, and thus I ended up heading up emigration.
I worked out a path in my mind, possibly heading toward east canyon but turning around before the steepness set in for good (it was "give my knee a break" day), then somehow finding more miles, possibly back down on wasatch, given a clearer picture by that time.
as things always go, I changed my mind. I did the first part, turning around halfway up big mountain, but then I decided to go down to mountain dell golf course and washington park. which meant a hill on the way back up. I chuckled to myself, yeah, no climbing today.

the lower hills surrounding little dell reservoir were velvet, rich with rain growth, solid masses of multi-shaded green velvet. lush growth is everywhere, absolutely everywhere, yellow and purple and white flowers throwing their heads up only to save us from drowning in the voluptuous sea of green.

washington park is a little treasure nestled at the east end of the golf course, cool and tree-shaded and significantly underutilized. I rode through to its far pavilion, then turned to head back to the golf course then up the big hill to the reservoir.
the road past the golf course slopes down toward the freeway exit, and I was enjoying the effortless speed when ahead on the road, in my lane, I saw a small shape. I slowed, the slowed more as I kept my eyes focused on the peculiar, long legged animal staring back at me, motionless but for a slight twitching of pointed ears.
red-tinted fur, black legs, pointy little vixenish face . . . oh my gosh, I am looking at a fox.
as this kicks in, I notice movement to my left and there are three little kits, golden brown and kitten-faced, staring at me as well from just outside their earthen den.
I stare at mom, I turn my eyes slowly to look at the kits. mom moves tentatively, closer to the berm, and I send her every vibe I possess that says I'm safe.
mom finally heads off into the shrubs, knowing that her kits are separated from me by a chain link fence, and that I, human in a neon green jacket, couldn't possibly want to cause her family harm.
I dig for my phone, and try to operate the camera function as the kits playfully wind amongst themselves and cease to worry about me. two take off to the west, and one remains by the mouth of the den. I've snapped my silly photo, and finally begin to move on, keeping an eye on both sides of the road. mom doesn't come back out, and then I see the two kits joined with yet another, twenty feet from the den, and I grin one of the biggest grins of my life.
I pedal on down the road, singing out loud one of those songs you learn in camp,
oh the fox went out on a chilly night, and it prayed to the moon for to give it light
for it'd many a mile to go that night, before it reached the town-o, town-o, town-o . . .

I sang halfway up the hill, and I haven't stopped grinning yet.


Tyler said...

So show us the picture. :) Did it turn out? That's so awesome!

I just want to thank you for writing your thoughts for us all to read. I'm a friend of your friend and I've been reading your blog for quite some time. You express yourself extremely well and I relate entirely. At a time in my life where I'm unable to enjoy the outdoors your words have reminded me of the things that will be mine again...soon enough!

susan said...

oh, you would laugh at my picture and say, yeah right, that's a baby fox?? I will work on enhancement, but so far it's not looking too good. :)
thank you immensely for sharing your thoughts... I appreciate your kind words and I love being able to connect to others through experiences. be well!