Without question, this year’s fall colors have been spectacular. Perhaps we all needed some relief in a year that has handed so many hardship and pain. Take heart—this too shall pass.
And while the hillsides caught our wonderment, life continued beneath the limbs of the mighty oaks.
A buck for your thoughts.
First picture—a mature buck spirting his way through a hemlock grove.
I do believe this is the same buck caught on camera earlier in the year, watching his antlers grow. He haunts the steep ravines and cliffs, where most people would not go.
This one is clever.
I like that.
A shared respect.
Next—a young red fox and a (funny?) story.
This is the first good picture of a fox caught on camera this year. I had another shot of a red but did not share as I feared that poor animal suffered from sarcoptic mange. This fellow seems quite healthy though, and that is a good thing.
I often see foxes. Once, as I sat beneath an ancient white pine not far from where this picture was taken, I saw a fox. From my vantage, I could see she was hunting (likely mice) at the base of the small knoll for some time that morning. (I have my reasons for thinking this fox was the same female who'd had a litter of kits earlier that spring near my parents' house.)
It was the sort of entertainment, so I waited there silently.
Then, she bounded up the steep side to sit atop a mound not more than five feet from me. I suspect she simply wanted to spy the world around her. As she surveyed the top of the hill, she finally made eye contact with me, and those eyes went wide, realizing how unwittingly close she’d come to another hunter.
Then, although it only lasted a few moments—an eternity for a situation such as this—she did something unusual. She stayed—longer than she other naturally should—taking in the sight of me as I had her. Perhaps she sensed no danger—for if there had been, it would have already occurred. Perhaps it was a mutual respect—one hunter to another. Who knows?
She then jumped below the hill's edge—where I couldn't see her—and disappeared.
I would relay this tale (as well as the several times bears had walked up on me as well—a story for another time) to an older cousin. (And don’t get me wrong, he’s not the type to insult anyone.) I half expected him to reason why I always seem to get close to animals was due to stealth, patience, and superior hunting ability. . . .
“You must smell like the forest,” he’d said, stroking his white beard pensively. “That’s why you get so close.”
He made that conclusion nearly five years ago, and to this day, I’m still not sure how to take it.