2 December 2012

Foxes

We have lived in this humble 1920's semi-detached house in the suburbs of Sheffield since 1989. When we first moved here, I swear we never saw any urban foxes. I recall a snowy morning several years ago when I was munching toast and gulping tea before setting off to work. I looked out across our white garden wondering how difficult the forthcoming drive to Parson Cross would be when I saw a nose protruding from our privet hedge. Then he stepped forward.

It was a fox, an urban fox and he saw me looking out at him before he tiptoed over the snow. It was one of those moments when you just wish you had a camera in your hands and that image of the fox peeping from the hedge amidst the white stuff imprinted itself in my mind's photo library.

In the last ten years, sightings of foxes in our neighbourhood have increased. At night I'd occasionally see flashes of these cunning creatures disappearing behind parked cars but for the past year, when returning from the local pub, I have regularly seen a certain bold  fox  who comes within ten metres of me and doesn't seem particularly alarmed. On a few occasions, I have tried to coax her to me with the sort of pursed lipped noises I once used with our pet cats. She looks at me and seems tempted - often stepping forward a metre or so before thinking better of it and running away.

On Saturday, I had been to do some shopping at "Lidl" on Chesterfield Road. Turning into Gisborne Road on a bright November afternoon, I had to pull over to the kerb because something was going on at the next road junction. Two healthy male foxes were having some kind of stand-off, right there on the tarmac. There was a sort of territorial supremacy dance with furtive glances  up and down the road. I watched them for three or four minutes before another vehicle drove past and they disappeared down garden paths. It was the middle of the day.

Then yesterday, after I'd spent a couple of hours on garden duty, I thought I'd try yet again to light the soggy bonfire I built in September. It was five o'clock but already dark. The fire was beginning to crackle and I was keeping my fingers crossed that this time it might really catch. Then I saw something move on the other side of the bonfire - just two metres away. Instinctively, I yelled out threateningly - "Grrah!" before realising it was a big dog fox - perhaps one of the streetfighters I'd seen on Saturday. In the flickering firelight, he just looked at me as if to say - "Who the hell are you?" then he padded over to my little bamboo grove under the apple trees where he appeared to cock one of his back legs.

I just stood there quietly watching. I thought he would disappear through the hedge into next door's garden but gingerly he came back to check me out. For a moment I had an eerie premonition that soon I would be physically fighting off a bold and hungry fox - wrestling him on the ground and trying to get my hands round his foxy throat as he tried to chomp chunks of meat off me. But it didn't happen. I stepped forward and he backed off. The little coward! Mind you, I have been told before that I don't taste very nice - though possibly, I might have simply outfoxed him.

9 comments:

  1. At our house in Brum there would be a family of three laying on the neighbour's shed roof every morning.

    Reminds me of this, my favourite poem and a wonderful way into how poetry works for the writer and reader:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKaT1cO2QxM

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  2. These days I find a sighting of a fox in the garden quite unsettling...they seem so bold now.

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  3. Coyotes are seen around here (to the peril of the local cat population) but no foxes that I know of.

    Raccoons, yes. Opossums, yes. Foxes, no.

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  4. funny
    my old mate from Hillsborough, text me the other night after he saw an urban fox tottering down my old road....
    I thank goodness there are no URBAN foxes around here.....
    they are far too brave compared to our country welsh foxes

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  5. Most of the fox we see are all full of mange, at least the ones that are seen during the day. Our coyotes the midwest (US) are becoming quite bold and we've had to employ our guardian breeds of dogs to live with our livestock in an attempt to protect them. I can sleep at night now knowing my sheep are safe from coyotes and wolves.

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  6. Sounds like the first couple of chapters of 'The Day of the Triffids'... where something seemingly innocuous ends up being deadly. As foxes get used to human smells and sounds, perhaps they will become bolder and bolder, and then they'll end up coming into your houses and dragging babies out of their cribs and away to munch on their tiny bones under the lilac hedges and flower borders of Merrie Olde England.

    Brrr. I just scared myself with my own imagination.

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  7. It seems the fox population is on the rise everywhere. They are a scurge here killing off the wildlife with nothing to keep their numbers down and moving into the suburbs too. Just another ferral animal introduced by some stupid homesick settler who wanted to hunt them !!

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  8. BANGKOK BOOBS Thanks for the "Thought Fox" link. I hadn't considered that poem for many's the long time.
    LIBBY That's simply because they know you are a foxy lady!
    RHYMES WITH... Do you have foxes in Georgia? I never saw one when I was there but I saw some very fat people.
    EARL JOHN GRAY I fear they are taking over and one day we'll be hiding in our houses as huge gangs of foxes terrorise our neighbourhoods.
    KELLY They say that climate change or nuclear war will bring about the end of the world but I think it will more likely be foxes, coyotes, badgers and rampaging bears.
    KATHERINE A baby was killed by a fox in London. It crept in through an open French window. Do brush tailed possums eat NZ babies or just hang about looking furry and stupid?
    HELSIE Even in Australia? Oh My God! They really are taking over. In America, they've even got their own news channel - Fox News! It won't be long before they are living in our houses and we are outside hunting for scraps!

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  9. Good gracious! So it's begun already. Quick grab your apocalypse emergency kit! What, you haven't got one?
    Here, take mine.

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