My wife and I are spending the Christmas holidays this year in the mountains of Idaho. It has been snowing and there’s about two feet of snow on the ground. The snowplows have cleared some of the roads but, in so doing, they have created great mounds of the white stuff all around the town and particularly around our apartment.
The first night we were here, shortly after dark, my wife happened to spot a fox across the road that was looking her way rather expectantly. She reported it to me and suggested we try giving it something to eat. “With all this snow, it must be difficult for the little critter to find food,” she said.
We scrounged around and found some bread and crackers which we put out on the porch. Almost immediately the beautiful little animal approached tentatively and gingerly picked up our offering and padded off into the night. We put out some more food and soon the little fox was back. This was repeated several times in the next couple of hours.
We were taken with the beauty of the wild little creature. Its facial features were delicate, its feet small, its tail a fine, full brush of exquisite color and composition. It moved with a smooth grace and seemed to know just where it was going.
As we tried to see where it was taking our offerings we came to realize that at least some of them were being buried in the snow for later extraction.
The next day we were talking to the proprietor of a novelty and antique shop in beautiful downtown McCall, Idaho. In the course of the conversation, we mentioned our experience with the fox. he said that we erred in giving it bread and crackers. “They will get soggy when buried in the snow and will be useless when it comes back and digs them up,” she said. “What foxes really like are eggs. They are good for their coats and the foxes can easily retrieve them from the snow.”
Over the next couple of days we went through three dozen eggs and at least three different foxes. Now, I don’t recommend this to anyone else, but before long, each fox would come up and gently take an egg one at a time from my wife’s fingers. Each time it would trot off into the night in a different direction carrying its precious prey to who knows where. The experience has become a highlight of our stay in Idaho.
Eggs for foxes! Who would have thought? A chicken farmer perhaps? We have chickens in Blanco. Not long ago, I spotted a beautiful red fox near our place. I saw it only briefly and since then I haven’t seen it again. I hope to see it again. I hope it stays out of the hen house and I hope it doesn’t get trapped or shot.
While hunting rabbits at night from the back of a pickup, my companions and I came upon a beautiful owl perched on top of a fence pole. We were high school kids then, all armed with .22 rifles. The beautiful bird was blinded in our headlights and was at our mercy. Each of us, I think, took aim but none of us could pull the trigger. Even at our ages and as immature as we were, we couldn’t bring ourselves to destroy such a magnificent creature.
“I think I am in this world to find beauty in lonely places,” said Jubal Sackett.
“Ma’am,” said Louis L’Amour, “I don’t know what it is you are wishful of in this life, but you set down of a night and you pray to God that he’ll let you walk alone across a mountain meadow when the first wild flowers are blooming.
“You pray he’ll let you set by a mountain stream with sunlight falling through the aspens, or that he’ll let you ride across an above timber-line plateau with the strong bare peaks around you and the black thunderheads gathering around them… You let him show you those things, Ma’am, and you’ll never miss heaven if you don’t make it.” (Treasure Mountain)
One doesn’t have to come to Idaho to appreciate nature’s handiwork. The Texas hill country, as we all know, is filled to overflowing with a plethora of canvasses from God’s colorful palette. The world’s flora and fauna are wonderful to behold at any season of the year.
How grateful we are to have discovered fox eggs. For a few short days, they brought a little piece of nature up close and personal. May your Christmas be as merry as ours is proving to be.