The first time ever I saw your face
The first time ever I saw you, you were SO little and your face was so…special, that I couldn’t even take a picture. You looked almost like some kind of new, unknown species. You looked funny and far beyond cute.
I soon discovered that not only did you look different, you actually were different. You didn’t grow that fast, your fur was made of different material and while your siblings wisely kept some distance from this unknown human being, you just bravely walked right passt my feet. And I noticed you were even smaller than I had assumed. A mini fox kit!
I sat alone near your den for hours and hours. When you and your little brother and sister were small, it seemed to rain continuously and it was way too cold for the time of year. Everything was dirty, soggy, cold and swampy. Many of these hours, I truly wondered what on earth I was doing there. Until you suddenly showed up, out of the blue. In my memory, it stopped raining immediately and the sun came through. Sometimes you just calmly sat next to me, sometimes you watched me. What you were thinking? I truly had no clue.
You weren’t afraid at all and not excessively interested either. I was just part of the furniture. Harmless furniture. Eventually you usually fell asleep. Quite often, you just slept outside in the rain.
You were still a toddler fox, that needed a lot of sleep. You rolled up in a clump of grass, closed your eyes and slept. And I could keep watch. When it rained your hair used to curl and that was another part of you that was different. Fox’ coats don’t curl at all, but yours did, which made you look like a gorgeous little rat.
As small as you were, you already had this huge tick in the corner of your eye, these first days. I felt for you. Fortunately I had no tick in my eye, but that must have been one of my rare tick-less spots. To capture you, I had to remove 40 (!) ticks that summer, but you was worth every single bite of them! And it provided you the somewhat irreverent name Tickeye, later on affectionately abbreviated as Ticky.
Although you remained smaller than the rest of the litter, you did grow up to be an energetic and enthusiastic fox kit. You were doing fine! Even when, one bad day, your mother fox arrived severely injured at the den. Her back was crooked and she could hardly walk.
She had never been the greatest huntress and the situation was even worse now. Fortunately, she kept on suckling you, although not always so warmly.
But you, the runt of the litter, you made it!
Becoming a real fox
For months and months I enjoyed watching you grow up and gradually take the shape of a real fox. A bit of a strange fox, with your way too long nose and misshapen teeth, but for me you were the most beautiful fox ever. Truly a child of your mother, with your splendor coat and slanted eyes! You might not be fully formed as a fox was intended, but your posture was magnificent, proud.
Your first prey, you unprofessionally tore to shreds. Your first funny mouse pounces. Your first crazy play fights with your sister. Your first brave steps outside familiar territory. Wonderful to be allowed to follow this so closely. You were great, thank you..super fox ….
And then, one day, you were gone.
That’s the way it goes, with foxes, I thought. A both sad and joyful moment. Young foxes grow up and go their own way, as it should!
I should have know better. After all, you were different. A fox full of surprises!
Together with your mother and siblings, you moved to a well known place, to go live there with the entire pack. Foxes are said to be solitary animals, but you really seemed happy with all the other foxes around you. You and your fellow Longnoses.
Sometimes you just sat there, so intensely happy that you looked like smiling. Always a brother or sister around, to help you keep your fur clean and to remove ticks. To play with or to cuddle. I’ve often wondered how much you must have missed them… Trying to convince myself that it was pure projection. Animals don’t have these strong family bonds, like we do… have they..?
This summer must have been the summer of your life and, gorgeous fox girl, how I wished this party would have gone on and on for you…
The tide turns
But fate had other, more cruel plans. Your sister, from a previous litter, with the same beautiful eyes, but much more elusive, your big sis, that brought you food, when your mother couldn’t. The sister that learned you all a real fox must know….. That beloved sister was found dead one day.
And on yet another black day, your sister from the same litter disappeared as well, never to be seen again. From that moment, you were sister-less.
Only your brother was still somewhere around. But little fox brothers are not of much use. They go their own way.
Fortunately, you still had your mom. Although she wasn’t the most affectionate mother, she was there for you…..with her magnificent territory! She was the queen of the dunes. Not only was she the most pretty fox ever. She had power and was able to keep and possess a territory. And you, Ticky, the heir to the throne, could thoroughly enjoy this privilege. As you did.
Unfortunately, you had to fulfill your role as heir too early. In your second summer, your mother died. You were really big enough to stand on your own feet, but as I learned from studying other fox families, you most probably would have remained in her company for years and you would have learned masses. As only daughter you would have helped rearing her new cubs. And this way you would have learned to master the skills of being a fox mother. You would have learned the fox kits everything, just like your sister learned you.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
Your mother died. That was bad enough. Nobody to remove your ticks. No one who looked like you. No one left with these gorgeous almond-shaped eyes and golden hair, but you…. All alone.
Not only did you lose your entire family. You lost your ground at the exact same moment. Your mother was strong and fiercely, a true wild fox. You were small and alone and not able to keep this territory.
A heir without a throne. Without anything.
On your own
So, once your mom had passed away, you were chased away and from that day, you never managed to find a real home again. You moved further and further away in order to find solid ground.
Occasionally, you seemed to have found a place.
But I seldomly saw you ‘happy’ again. You often looked measly. Covered with ticks and unkempt sores. I so often found you sitting somewhere, looking glumly, with your eyes squeezed, that I wondered whether the name Pincheye had not been more appropriate name for you.
And yet … .. just sometimes you suddenly resurrected as the gorgeous foxy lady you used to be. Your wore your coat, almost un-foxy soft, like a cloak. Your unmistakable attitude radiated pride rather than defeat. Your nose was smooth and your eyes were shining and you were Miss Dunes again. Shining in the sun with your nose in the wind and your eyes closed. Happy Ticky is happy! And so were I, with such a joy to watch.
Since that miserable summer, when you lost everything you ever loved, you’ve had several places, but you never really seemed at home. You had to fight for your place, for your existence. But you kept coming back, both literally and figuratively. What a tough little fox you were!
Your second winter, all went wrong again. Suddenly your hind leg was dangling loose, as if it was no longer attached to your body. You could not even stand on it. I’ve never seen anything like it and I hope to never see such a thing again! It was getting colder, winter knocked on the door and your injured leg was deteriorating. It didn’t look good for you. How were you gonna make it, little, weak, seriously injured fox?
Apparently you had two fox guardian angels on your shoulder; we never ever experienced a milder winter than that year. At least the weather was favorable to you! … And a miracle took place; your leg healed miraculously. After months of misery you could finally run freely again and hope raised…
New dawn, new day..?
Things got even better when it became spring and you started to dig a fox den. Way too late in the year, at a moment when I no longer expected it. But hey, who am I to know something about how foxes work? I assumed you’d know best. Your den had no real escape and was build in plain sight. But -then again- you were the expert! Wasn’t it? Or was this the consequence of missing an example too early in life?
You were actually pregnant and I looked forward to the funny longnosed fox kits you would breed. Would they have the same funny teeth and smooth coats? Oh well, if only they would be healthy…
You were immensely devoted to your new task as a soon to be mom and I saw you frequently chasing out of the den totally sand covered. You must have been building an actual palace below for your new family…!
But again, luck wasn’t at your side. The pregnancy was aborted and the chance on a longnose fox family of your own was over for this year
I had granted you your fox kits so much. And to be honest – myself too- because I’m sure it would have been a bunch of splendor kits.
The following year went by relatively quiet. Sometimes I saw you, sometimes I didn’t . Sometimes you were relaxed, sometimes you ran away. You were different indeed . And even though I’ve followed you for a long time, I have no illusions at all that I really understood what was going on in that fox brain of yours. At times I tried to guess and I might have guessed right once or twice. Who knows.
And then it became winter again. A long, lonely period lied ahead of you. Apparently you didn’t feel like it and to my big surprise you made a decision I will always regret greatly, but also admire deeply. What a brave little fox you were!
You didn’t resign to your fate, but picked up your fox stuff and…moved. Proudly and without the slightest hesitation, you crossed the enemy lines. Even your strong and brave mother had only sporadically and with the greatest reluctance dared to pass that symbolic but oh so clear border.
How many times have you seen your mother being humiliated, threatened and almost been slaughtered in her attempts? She lied on the ground, throbbing and squeaking while being summoned to immediately disappear or …..else! She knew it was hopeless and despite her pride she always backed off. Crossing that border equaled a suicide mission.
Your mother risked this kind of dangerous experiments only when absolutely necessity. When she had a nest of starving cubs to feed or when it froze mercilessly. Just in cases where it was literally a matter of life or death. She knew the risk and you must have known it, too….
And yet, that day, you entered the belly of the beast and I hold my breath. I expected you to be expelled immediately and you did have to battle some. But, in the middle of that hostile territory, you blandly created your own space and owned it with an air as if it was yours and it always had been. Apparently it showed and you seemed to be accepted in a way.
You were even seen in a nice chat with a beautiful young male from the Others. The two of you had a wonderful chemistry and you just couldn’t keep their paws off each other… Did you manage to win a ticket to the other family though the heart of this nice young fox lad? Is this how it goes with foxes? Would everything work out just fine for you? Would you never have to be alone again and even have a family of your own, next spring? Would you be the Peacemaker in this eternal war between your family and the Others? Like a Fox West Side Story or a Fox Romeo and Juliette? Does fairy tales like these exist in a fox world?
Yes, they do. But just like in the human world, tales often have a bad ending. Just like The West Side Story started with love and just like Romeo and Juliette is a story of love…. Ticky had to pay for her love, with … death. How desperate were you, to search for your dream fox in this particular fox family?
After over a month, an alpha fox decided to protect her family. A fight that seriously injured both foxes, but meant the end for one, for you.
How desperate were you, Ticky, to take a fatal decision, like you did? There was plenty of food in the area. Was it really a longing for contact, the company that drew you there? Rather dead, than lonely?
You will never be lonely again, Ticky. Never hungry or hurt again. Never been chased away anymore. You will live in thousands of pictures, but more importantly: you’ll live in my heart forever.
I know I’ll always remember you, how you shone in the sunlight, with your long, beautiful nose in the air.
For you, dear Ticky, I would like to believe in Fox Heaven, where your mom and sisters are there for you, always.
Rest in peace, beautiful girl. You will be missed in a way not many wild animals have ever been missed before,
Ticky, you were the best!
Beautiful words and photos.
Having watched a fox family or two in our yard the past three years and wondering about their fate when they disperse from the den I understand your affection for Ms. Ticky. Sad reminder that Mother Nature is often not very compassionate
What a joy to have these wonderful animals in your own garden 😀 And of course you must recognise the impact they can have….
I hope ‘your’ foxes are doing fine!
What a heart wrenchingly sad story. Beautiful photographs and observations, that you and we can all continue to cherish x
Very strong fox life story. Roeselien, you are great and not only foxes love you.
I just discovered your photos and writing. I am enchanted! I used one of your fox images to illustrate a fb post about a fox encounter I had – and credited you. My husband is a painter, so I know it’s important. Now I’m going one step further to link my fb friends to your website. Many are authors and artists, so they will be thrilled. I wish you all the best in your celebrations of our beautiful Earth!
Good time this afternoon, reading for the first time your words.
I already loved your photos so much. And your story now.
You touched my heart so deeply. Just tears.
Thank you for that great sharing, Roeselien.
Motherearth is so beautiful through your eyes. Keep writing and photographing.You’re a beautiful soul. Humanity needs precious people like you.
Oh what a lovely and moving story. I feel so deeply for foxes (for all animals really) – and I can imagine your feelings. But Ticky will always be in your heart (and in mine in some small way now) and she will never be forgotten. Also because of your fantastic photos. You are an amazing photographer, Roeselien 🙂