A Red Fox in a Dust of Snow (or, Walk–Bark–Walk)

Photo by Kerri McCaffrey

Chester, NJ.  March 4, 2012–this post originally published earlier this winter under, thepoetseyes.com

Foxes love to travel along–or alongside–old farm walls like this one in Sussex County, NJ. It makes for much easier travel!

Note to Readers Before Reading the Rest of This Blog:  Here is a more recent fox vocalization than the one found later in this post.  I have seen this fox and it is a very beautiful one…red with some faint black splotches on its coat; it has mostly black fur behind its ears.  It visits my yard almost every day.  I hope it will bring its cubs by soon!   Please wait until 34 seconds into the sound byte where you will hear it begin to vocalize.  It is worth the wait!

12-03-04-01-22-19 Fox Call march 4

It was the last night with the Christmas tree up. With its glow, the living room looked as cozy as a Currier and Ives painting–a quiet cottage and my boys, in bed.  If you are a parent, this is peaceful time as I am sure you know.  So, I decided to write poetry. I write best at night—it clears my head. It is my trusted time.  To my reading and writing, I am a loyal friend.

Last night, composing on the maple wood of my kitchen table—and with only the occasional hum of the fridge breaking the sweet silence, I seemed to have a wild friend join me. It was 12:30 a.m.  The little barks seemed to start down in the sluice and then  follow the animal trail through the thick brush.  Beside his barking–everything else last night was a delightful hush.

Oh, we had seen him during the day. My sons and I saw him peeking shyly from behind an eighty foot locust tree which had fallen during Hurricane Irene; now it serves as a fence line in my backyard. Doing the dishes, I spotted the little critter playing hide and seek—I could tell he could hear each clink of silverware and glass, so I paused and called the boys to watch. A few seconds later, he “slinked” off into the brush and headed for the spruce stand down below.

So now some twelve hours later, he began coming down the deer trail. Fox often seem to scream like a lady in extreme pain—then they stop, walk a hundred yards or so—and do it again. Local legend has it that the screams are bobcats, but until I can confirm that, I have to believe that the “screaming lady sounds” we have heard are fox; my boys saw this phenomenon  once—a fox, sitting in the blue hue of snow– screaming at the moon. That is evidence enough for me. I don’t doubt that bobcats scream, too—but until I can see one with my own ears… (oh, such synesthesia!).

But–back to tonight. I heard the cutest barks…like a little King James terrier—and he was following the same pattern, walk—vocalize—walk. However, tonight his vocalizations were barks. I have him recorded for you here: (double click, and be patient it is worth it–remember, he is walking, then barking, then walking…so you have to hang on!).


The initial noise you hear is the squeaky back door opening. I think you will find him really interesting. Of course, try to picture the moon out, thin clouds slicing by the moon, and about a half inch of fluffy silent snow; it was a bucolic scene—our little rusty friend putting on a show.  I can always trust his punctuality at day’s end!

If you are loyal to your poetry, your poetry comes to you!

Peace, KM

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