Our trip to Boston in December was another episode in exhaustion, sprinkled with delightful interludes (seeing La Famiglia Dilletante, sitting with my spiritual mentor and eating uninterrupted for 10 minutes; Manhattan strolling with Smruti; Ben and the Big Blue Whale).
But the most surprising of these were the wildlife appearances in my old neighborhood.
As kids, we would have lived for the chance to see animals (other than the omnipresent squirrels) wandering through our yards. I had never seen a fox, or a raccoon. Sometimes the trash would be torn apart, and that would be offered as evidence of the wild kingdom amongst us, but other than the excitement offered by finding the occasional toad, it was a barren experience.
So imagine my surprise when I looked out the hallway window and saw a plump fox, lolling around the scrubby woods that was once our backyard. Lolling around, trying to get comfy on the hillside. So confident, that when Ben and I snuck out to watch him (from the other side of a cinderblock wall with a 4ft chickenwire fence), he looked at us and nearly waved. A star was born.
When we took a dusk walk on Christmas eve, we took a turn off Fox Meadow Lane onto Indian Path (I am not making these names up). Fluffy grey ashes were floating down, though there was no woodsmoke. “Wait, those aren’t ashes, they’re feathers,” I remarked to Himself. Looking up, I saw a hawk perched on a telephone pole, picking apart an early dinner. Ben followed suit, and that is when we had our first discussion of carnivores and hunting.
The reasons are many for the wildlife appearances, I suppose, but most of them aren’t very good. The increase in commercial development and housing subdivisions is also pushing deer into backyards, and, in my mother’s case, front ends.
I’m glad Ben remembers the fox in Grammie’s woods, but I don’t feel so good about the circumstances that pushed him there.