I’ve really been enjoying watching the dogs romp and play the way they do when we are out in the woods. It’s as if being off leash and free to roam without restriction reminds them of their essential connection to each other. They have the whole world to explore, and even though they will each disappear for some requisite solo time, they are rarely out of sight of each other.
Having Yogi with us seems to have taken the edge off of Nora’s otherwise intense engagement with the woods. He has softened her frantic way, and I marvel at how simple play has the power to transform.
When we’re here on the homestead, they have a huge meadow to romp in together and play. But they don’t. Instead, they glory in being able to escape outside with one of their inside chew toys, or in Yogi’s case, a blanket, pillow or shoe. The bit of lawn that is their playground becomes littered with the likes of kongs, tennis balls, squeaky animals, and knotted ropes. I will periodically pick them them all up and bring them inside. But it takes only a few days before they all end up outside again. In the past week, I noticed that most of the toys were not in sight. I walked the meadow with the growing grasses that could now hide them, and couldn’t find any. One morning I was pulling out of the driveway and noticed the black kong over on the other side of the road. Hmmm. Not something a bear would want. Surely it didn’t compare to the cage filled with suet that went missing from my porch eave recently. How did this small, undistinguished looking toy, get over there?
The next morning the dogs were outside and started frantically barking. Not uncommon when they see a squirrel or sense something moving in the woods. Usually I can open the door, issue a firm ‘stop barking’ command, and they will run off in the other direction. But on this morning, they stood fixed in their posts at the front edge of their boundary facing my neighbor’s meadow across the street. Both of their tails were wagging, even with the fur on Nora’s back standing straight up. And the barking kept up at a fever pitch. I looked out the window but couldn’t see anything that might be causing this frenzy. I finally stepped into the driveway to really look. And saw this.
I was so taken aback by the blatant, in your face feel of this creature staring back at us. Those ears. Even from this distance I knew it must be a fox. But don’t foxes hide, fully camouflage themselves so as to watch and assess? When the fox stood up I thought for sure it was to run away.
But instead he actually walked closer, and stood there, fully revealed.
Or was it a she? Looking for more toys for her young ones back in a cleverly concealed den out there in the woods? Or just wanting to play herself with the curious and canine cousins on the other side of the road? I can relate. Learning new ways, even how to play, takes time, keen observation, and a willingness to introduce new things into the pattern of life. As the distance between me and my architecture career continues to grow, so does my need for engagement with wage earning, purposeful, work that can sustain. I watch where survival anxiety rears its ugly head and fills me with fear. It is an ugly feeling that I am learning to take in stride and let pass sooner than later. As I invest more time into writing and making art, I seek out work that can balance with where the pattern of life has brought me. As I am fond of saying, everything I do is life’s work, and with intention, some of it I get paid for with money. But I now know that in every way I get paid in ways that sustain.
I continue to feel the thrill of these rare, but now consistent, glimpses of wild life and their ways. Wild life isn’t just the unseen and unknown of what is out there in the woods. It is also the unseen and unknown of the towns and cities I am a part of too. Yogi and Nora have been helping me take down the invisible wall that stands between my domesticated life and the rich playground of unknown in my back yard. But it is this Fox, blatantly revealing himself in my front yard, that reminds me how important it is to keep re-engaging with the unknown on the other side of the road too.