Monday, July 2, 2012
A fox saved my little brother's life. My mother thought so, anyhow.
Back in, oh, 1958 ... 1959 ... around there (my little brother was 10-ish to 12-ish, four years younger than I), he contracted hepatitis. I don't know how. I don't know the version of the disease. All I know is that he lay sick in his room, the doctor showed up now and then (yes, house calls), and he didn't seem to be getting any better.
The older girl next door had a boyfriend who was a Natty Bumppo type--loved to hunt and fish and hang out in the woods. Once, I remember, he stood up in one of our church youth group meetings and announced that he could go to the woods with only a knife and make his living. I laughed then--but I also believed him. He not only had the skills; he had the tenacity--the orneriness--as well. I could easily picture him, out in the woods behind our house, making campfires, snaring rabbits, maybe smearing colored clay on his forehead, chanting. Surviving.
Anyway, this boyfriend, whom I'll call Darrell, somehow acquired a young fox. (Did he trap it? Find it? What?) And he liked to carry the little fellow around in the inside pocket of his hunting jacket, where my dad, in his similar coat, kept the quail and rabbits he'd shot. If you were polite to Darrell, he'd show you little Reynard, who would stare back at you as if he'd love to eat your eyes.
My mother claims that one day while she was in my little brother's sick room, he was raving on and on about wanting to see a fox. She mentioned it to me; I told her about Darrell, who (fate!) was visiting his GF next door at that very moment. I went over, told Darrell, who brought the fox to my brother's room. He saw it and rose from the dead. Says my mom. Who can wax romantic while telling family stories.
Well, brother Davi (prounounced "Davy") did recover, that's for sure. I just saw him a few days ago. But should we credit the fox in Darrell's jacket? I'm hesitant to do so, especially since the only witness to Davi's sickbed-fox-craving was the storyteller herself, my mother.
On the other hand, religions have been founded on less ...
One more story about foxes and my mother ...
Fifteen or twenty years ago, Mom was visiting us while we were living in Aurora. I had been driving her here and there, and she had wondered why so many Canada geese were around. At the time we were on Old Mill Road where it passes through Tinker's Creek Park land betwee Aurora and Hudson.
I pretended I knew the reason, waxed wise: "Well, Mom, we've killed off the predators around here. Foxes, wolves."
Five seconds later a RED FOX ran right across the road in front of our car. I had not seen a fox since the Days of Darrell.
Mom (uttered with the tone I often heard in the middle school where I taught, the tone employed by especially snotty seventh grade girls): "I thought you said all the foxes were gone?!!"
Aesop wrote about a fox and a crow. My mother saw fox; I ate crow.