I awoke one morning to the eerie sound of foxes screaming in the woods.
They sounded close. It was early, the blue-gray just before dawn. I got up and went out onto the front porch. It was freezing – in the twenties – and lightly snowing. I stood in my pajamas, scanning the property, when two foxes came trotting into view from the edge of the trees near the creek. I watched, transfixed, as they made their way past the barn. The smaller one – a female – was limping and lagged behind. I tried to stay still, despite the fact that I was shivering. The male paused before entering the pasture and waited for the female to catch up. In the distance, I heard another fox scream – a wild sound, somewhere between a bark and a cat’s screech. The male turned to look, then he and the female continued into the pasture. She sank down to rest next to a tower of hay bales. The male disappeared, then suddenly re-appeared at the top of the bales like a magic trick, having climbed up the back side. He sat and surveyed the farm, furry red coat, white mask, black ears and legs, white-tipped tail. It looked like he had done this many times before. I drank in the rare moment, getting to watch these elusive creatures go about their business. I looked over at the egg mobile parked a few hundred yards away, chickens closed up tight. But the fox did not seem interested in procuring a meal for his mate, but rather, in finding safety. He jumped down and the female stood, and he led her away, toward the woods on the far side of the pasture. He stopped several times to wait while the female rested.
I watched until they disappeared beyond the dark fence and into the trees as daylight broke, forgetting the cold.