A Red Fox on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day started auspiciously with a gorgeous sunrise casting a warm pink glow on Pollock Mountain.

Sunrise on Pollock Mountain.

Finn is nursing a cut on his right rear foot, deep between two pads. He isn't too bothered by it, but to prevent further damage, I decide he and I should go for a walk on pavement. No running.

We head over to the golf course and housing development across the valley where the roads are plowed down to the pavement, and mostly free of ice. Sadly, by the time we start out, high clouds are moving in and the sunshine I was anticipating is being seriously filtered. And sadly for Finn, I use his leash, and Haltie - can't have him pulling me off my feet when I have to negotiate a patch of ice. He's used to both from all our city runs, and doesn't complain. Even though there are few people in residence, and fewer cars, I didn't want Finn to chase anything.

There's a cat over there, somewhere.

In the photo above, Finn is looking back to where a cat had just run and disappeared behind a house. He really wanted to chase that cat. He pulled really hard. I love the Haltie.

Valley view from MeadowCreek.

I love the Haltie even more when, a few paces from the spot where the photo above is taken, we see a gorgeous red fox hunting for his breakfast in a snowy field between some houses. His winter coat is thick and fluffy. Such beautiful markings.

The fox turns to see who is interrupting his hunt.

The fox paces, not sure about his audience.

Even when he sees something he really wants to chase, Finn is usually pretty quiet; mostly he pulls. He sits and stays when I ask him to, although I don't dare drop his leash. I'm fumbling with my camera, my hands are gloved, I've got the leash in one fist and I'm trying to zoom in on the fox. The fox nervously watches all this movement on my part. Finally Finn can't restrain himself and lets out a very loud, excited whimper. The fox is off...

I watch the fox disappear over the hillside. Luckily, he has run in the direction that the road Finn and I are walking on will take us, in a big meandering loop. Finn loses sight of the fox, but strains at the leash, visions of a merry chase through the woods undoubtedly dancing in his head.

We continue on our walk. I keep my camera in my hand, anticipating more photo ops. I'm not disappointed.

Hunting in the tree well.

The fox is so busy scratching and sniffing in the tree well for something edible that Finn and I are actually able to get pretty close before he even looks up at us.

Look at that tail - so fluffy, thick and full!

Convincing Finn to be still, I zoom in with my camera while the fox is occupied with the tree well and wait...wait...until he finally senses that he's being watched and looks right at me.

You again?

Finn lets his presence be known again, and the fox trots off and away. The snow is old and crusted over; the fox seems to dance across the surface as he springs and prances, too light to even break through. I'm reminded of a very similar light-footedness I observed in the wolf the girls and I encountered in the woods several years ago. The gait seems to say I'm leaving, but I'm not afraid of you.

Sharing this series of photos with a friend, I mention that, if I could do things over again, I would have pursued wildlife photography. I love being able to capture images of animals in their natural element. I love being outside with them, quietly observing.

Maybe I'll reinvent myself yet again, fulfill that dream in some small measure.

I need a better camera, though. 
Rebecca WallickComment