The Engineer usually gets out of bed before I do. I’m still at a point where my body, eleven weeks out from a double surgery, periodically says “You WILL lie down now” and there’s not much I can do about it. And I don’t wake up zippy some mornings.
But when a big bearded man yells “Oh my GOODNESS!” and kind of squees, even if seven a.m. feels too early, you really have to haul yourself up.
“It’s a family of foxes,” he said.
And there on the lawn behind mine — the back of my lot faces the side of hers, which is a little down the slope, so I get a full view — was a big gingery mama fox with a riotous litter of kits, already grown to about the size of our smaller cats. Like kittens, they were tumbling, wrestling, pouncing, bouncing, literally pronking, and chasing each other around the neighbor’s shed. I suspect they were born there. Mama was hanging out in a mulched but unplanted garden border by the far fence, and periodically they all rushed her, nursed for half a minute or so, and went back to what looked like a furry multiplex espresso jag.
It was very hard to tear ourselves away and get dressed.
“Foxes are crepuscular,” I remarked. “They’ll probably be back out there in the evening.”
Which they were. I had been about to mention it, and then the Engineer, who was putting a light collation on the table, stopped in midstride and squee’d again. We had thought there were four kits, but now we could clearly see five in the fading light, even more coked-up than they had been in the morning, with Mom nowhere in sight. Hunting? Watching from behind the shed?
After a bit of frustrated searching I finally found the binoculars that someone gave me one year at Christmas because he was sure I would enjoy birding. I consider birdwatching right up there with watching beige paint dry, but seeing the little black tufts on the fox kits’ ears and trying to make out the white tail tip the farsighted Engineer swore he saw, now that is worth delaying dinner. We watched till the light went bad.
My neighbor has a senile Dachshund that never goes in the yard without her, so I’m not really concerned for it, and you would hope she knows the Dionne Fox Quintuplets are living in her shed, but maybe I should say something? Only I’d hate for her to get all salty and call some Critter Getter outfit. The kits will be off to stake out their own territories pretty soon, and everyone knows the hood has foxes, you just don’t see them often. I feel bad for the bunnies, but without Brother and Sister Fox we would probably be hip deep in rabbits like the Australian outback.
I couldn’t get photos at that distance, but about this age and color. Sort of a muted ginger.
I think dinner is going to be late for a while.