• Dale Bowman

Red fox beauty tops astonishing morning: Ramble with the Lady

The red fox stalking mice or voles in the weeds growing under the front row of the old weathered bleachers registered in some part of my brain this morning, but not fast enough to fire the synapses that would have had me pull my phone from my left pocket to get the picture.

By the time, I was reaching for the phone, the fox bolted.

All the same my morning was made.

Red foxes are my favorite mammal. It's some combination of their beauty, grace and relative elusiveness that so pulls me to red foxes.

This morning was so wonderfully spring-like that I decided to stretch out the full extended 2-mile ramble with Lady, our family's mutt, for the first time in months. I figured with the recent drying weather that it should be easily walkable, even out on the far edges of the extended ramble.

And it was perfect.

And came with the blessing of seeing the red fox.

The bleachers are stowed at the far end, near the side rail cutting north along the lake to the west. Each September, our town holds a Pumpkin Fest. On the Sunday of the weekend, there's a big tractor just across the side rail separating the town from the wildness of the town pond.

There's part of me that would like to delve into the sociological meaning of that, but can't really sink my teeth into it right now.

So for the rest of the year, the old bleachers, sit on a far edge, weathering more each year. And weeds grow under it.

That is what the fox was hunting on the calm morning.

I thought I would only get the one glimpse, but God bless Lady. All of a sudden, she slunk low and began her stalking movement, so I figured she had spotted the fox again. I followed the line from her tail to her nose and saw the fox just as it bolted across the small opening to a cornfield and into the thick brush along the lake to the west.

Truly wonderful.

Truly wonderful spring morning, too.

One that just kept getting more wonderful as we rambled on.

Starting out with Lady chasing a squirrel across the street from marauding the feeders on our front porch. Two different woodpeckers hammered trees around town. Cardinals called in several trees. Dozens upon dozens of robins hopped and short flew around town and out of town.

When we turned and went out on the extended part of the Ramble, I could hear both sandpipers and killdeer calling. That made my morning special, in a different way.

On the north old clay pit, I counted 15 coots swimming in and around five Canada geese.

What made that interesting was that yesterday I had counted 22 coots after finding 16 coots the previous three mornings.

But then I counted seven coots with two geese swimming on the south pit.

While I was looking at and counting them, I spotted the pair of geese that usually nests on the island getting on with the business of nesting, finally.

I have no idea what brought about the delay in their nesting.

The two pair of wood ducks, which I know nest about the town pond, flew off. The two swimming geese swam over and gave us what-for. I love that term what-for.

As we circled back along the former side rail, now a faint trail, above the south pit, a rabbit ran across, but Lady did not see it. The moment just made me feel so alive and in tune with the joy of the morning.

By the joy of the moment, I mean the who shebang of all the wildlife, the joy of seeing a red fox, the joy of hearing killdeer and and the joy of knowing the island geese are finally nesting.

For a change, I truly understand those who say nature is their church. (Hello, Ken Gortowski.)

Back on the edge of town, I saw one barn pigeon on the wires by the grain elevators. Three sandpipers called. I tried to get a passable photo, just so I could ID which sandpipers I was seeing this morning. But the photos turned out to be un-usable.

All the same, it was good to see sandpipers hopping and speed walking, I love their speed walking, around the grit area in the gravel by the grain elevators.

Back in town, Lady and I flushed a rabbit from the evergreens south of the alley behind the bus barn downtown. What struck me was just how green all the lawns were as the brown rabbit hopped off.

Back home, Lady flushed the mourning doves feeding around the front porch.

My morning was bright, not always the case.

Time to prep for church, the formal structured kind.

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