What a week huh? “Fitzie, it’s Wednesday”
Let’s talk about friendship, shall we?
Every day at 4:15 pm, a copper-coloured fox would walk up to Catherine Raven’s porch and she would read to him. So begins Fox & I.
Foxes are remarkable creatures. Heck, this blog did a player ratings to the theme of foxes not that long ago. But none of those foxes were this fox, named Fox by our park ranger turned author.
How does one even speak to a Fox? Foxes don’t talk, and this one was a mute.
“Qwah,” it would sometimes squeal.
oh, susan, you are terrific. Thank you for giving up your time to read Fox and I. And thanks for remembering him. pic.twitter.com/3a8jnOdLAw— Catherine Raven (@WalkedAway8) March 15, 2022
The author undergoes a bit of a transformation herself, grappling with a growing friendship with a fox with a career in science where anthropomorphism is considered childish and unscientific.
We see the relationship build between these two for a little over 300 pages. They play games together, hunted together, read together and manage her property in Montana together.
They enjoyed each other’s companionship. They were friends.
His nose brushed the weeping stem of his tattered forget-me-not; scruff-marks ran the length of his muzzle. Bald spots and kit licks had left his coat tufted, as if shaved by a remedial barber. Was I flattered that he had missed me? No. he was giving me something more important than a compliment: a purpose (165).
FOX & I: AN UNCOMMON FRIENDSHIP by Catherine Raven (@WalkedAway8) is the winner of this year's PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award! Congratulations! #PENLitAwards pic.twitter.com/Zk3XfvGDX4— PEN America (@PENamerica) March 1, 2022
Even as Raven deeply cared for Fox, she was careful to not domesticate him. For if he were like a household pet, the friendship would lose its virtue. How could one be friends with something it owns?
Raven lovingly describes her encounters with Fox and its brave, sometimes reckless behaviour. He was a scavenger, and he was daring.
The more I watched him, the more I understood him and appreciated his ease of living; insight became empathy. And empathy, I am convinced, is the gateway to friendship (226).
This book could be a lesson on friendship. On empathy. On patience.
Having read some memoirs on authors’ relationships with animals behaviour, I foresaw how this would end. After finishing the book on Sunday, it was difficult to not feel some kind of grief over our friend Fox.
I’ve come across foxes a couple of times in my life. First, while walking through a garden at night on my way home from university. The animal moved so fast I could hardly make out it was. Then, a few years later near my flat near Kilburn High Road. It was our local fox.
The third time was a few months ago. I walked through the park one morning before work when this beautiful red fox stepped out of the fog and we stared at each other. After a minute the fox skulked into the woods.
The book is a wonderful legacy on Fox. “Legacies are the point of friendship,” Raven says.
Fitzie’s track of the day: Fox on the Run, by Sweet
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