Almost every day I get up before the sun and take a cup of coffee to the front porch. I sit and listen to the birds and watch the bats in their last frantic effort to feed before sunrise. But my real reason for sitting out front instead of in back is that I can watch our foxes romping on the wide expanse of grass across the road. That was not the case this morning. Instead of enjoying the beginning of the day it was early morning heartbreak for me.
For years Mr. Comfortable, Pete, and even the grand kids during their visits have loved watching our foxes as they go about their routines. In the early morning and evening hours they play with each other and with items they find. A cup discarded by a passing vehicle would be tossed in the air and pounced on by these sweet, playful animals. They’d hide in the shrubs then leap out to tackle each other. Our foxes were a source of endless delight. Or so I believed.
The delight ended this morning. I got up much later than usual. The sun was already up and the bats were sleeping in their trees. The birds were still singing but not the lovely dawn chorus I usually get to hear. And, at first, I thought it was just another, albeit late starting, day.
Then I saw one of our fox pups lying on the shoulder of the road. He was so still. And I knew he wasn’t just resting there. The foxes are usually incredibly careful near the road. The pup was dead. He’d probably been hit by a car sometime in the night. I rushed to tell Mr. C and he, too was devastated.
Even though I didn’t want to see it I was compelled to go back to the porch and look again. Perhaps I’d just imagined him there. But he was still lying there with cars rushing past. Then I saw the thing that truly broke my heart.
When we first began really watching the foxes I named them all. The vixen I dubbed Victoria. She was lovely and calm. She tolerated the rambunctious play of her pups with dignity and sometimes with a total lack of it. She was beautiful. Victoria had long, black legs and a tail that waved like a banner when she trotted across our lawn. And this morning I saw her lying on the center line of the road. That damned road.
Our beloved Victoria in the back yard.
This far from the village people seem to think that the posted speed limit is for everyone else. The two-lane road is posted 55 mph but most people fly by at 70 mph. 18-wheelers use this road to avoid having to go out of the way to get on and off the freeway when they’re making stops at the various little towns. None of them, neither cars nor trucks, seem to think about the people and animals that live on this road.
It was once the only “major” road that went clear across the state. But the freeway has been there for decades and you’d think that only local traffic would bother taking a road that has a tiny village with a stop light every 6 miles or so. That’s not the case. And sometime in the night one of those vehicles killed two of our beloved foxes.
I don’t know what could have made Victoria and her pup go into the road with a vehicle approaching. They usually wait in the ditch and check several times for traffic before daring to cross. If it had been the coyote I suspect he would have taken at least one of the bodies. Neither Victoria nor her pup would have run into the road because they heard people. They were used to the sound of human voices and activities. If someone came to close they’d simply pop into the heavy shrubbery and wait until the coast was clear. I have no idea why they were in the road. But it doesn’t matter. They were. And now they’re gone.
I sat on the porch this morning and, instead of basking in the joy of watching the creatures that live here, I wept. A very important part of my small world is gone forever. I wasn’t ready to face this early morning heartbreak