Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Early Morning Madness

Ah, the heat! I’m a creature of winter, not of summer. Having what is essentially an August heat wave in early June terrifies me. Normally, I get through summer by pretending to ignore it, by holding on to spring as long as I can and then seeing signs of fall in the teeniest, tiniest little things. When I imagine three more months just like the past three days of unremitting heat and humidity, I am ready to jump ship, though to where I have no idea.

Dog and Baby Dog loll around the cabin, enlivened only briefly when I drop a few ice cubes in their water dishes. Now that winter is over, really over I should say, Baby Dog is back to staring at the spot where she saw one of the red foxes last year. For a moment or two, the fox stared at her and she stared at the fox, separated by perhaps 30 yards or so. For the rest of the summer, she couldn’t pass that spot without stopping and staring at it. I thought she was finally over her obsession, but no. She kind of ignored the spot during winter but now the spot looks the same as it did last June when she first saw the fox. This brief moment was obviously a high point of her life, and she just can’t let it go.

As to the foxes themselves, they were vocal this morning. The female has a den (and likely several kits) somewhere in a shallow cut where a seasonal stream runs off the mountain about 100 yards from the cabin. Their barking reminds me of how many couples use a cell phone. "Where are you?" the female barks. The male barks back, and the female knows the male is down around Beaver Creek somewhere. Towards dawn, the back-and-forth barks are nearly continuous, the one constantly telling the other where he is, the female calling him home.

Sometimes my dogs join in the barking, though it’s debatable whether Dog and Baby Dog recognize the sounds as anything other than as Something That Must Be Barked At. Fox barks don’t sound like dog barks. They are very hoarse sounds, with more breath than sound, more like a snort or a cough than a bark. Still, the sounds are loud and carry through the quiet forest. When the windows are open, the sound in the pre-dawn hours can wake me up.

Once this weather breaks, now that the fox kits should be approaching two months old, I am tempted to wander down to the area where the den is and see if I can find the little ones. But not today. It’s too hot.

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