Thursday, August 7, 2008
Shortly after I moved to Hampstead my boyfriend and I took an evening stroll through the neighborhood. As we were walking down the street, we saw a cat cross the road in front of us. Walking a bit closer, we discovered that it was not a cat at all; it was a fox! What a novelty!
The English were quick to pour their characteristic lack of enthusiasm on our excitement about the red-coated creature. Locals informed us that foxes were a multitudinous nuisance in England, somewhat akin to raccoons in my rural Silicon Valley home town.
Nonetheless, our characteristic American optimism supported our intrigue in our furry neighbors. We started spotting foxes foraging for food around our flat at night and jumping up on walls in the early morning hours. The more we saw of them, the more attached we became.
So attached, in fact, that we decided to buy a small water bowl for our garden to see if we could attract a fox or two to be our furry friends. My boyfriend bought such a vessel a few weeks ago and we took a pen to it to label it “FOX.”
There must have been some rumor of our actions circulating throughout the Hampstead fox community, because during the BBQ we had that evening a fox wandered into our garden. We didn’t think it would stay long after it saw a crowd of people milling about, but the fearless crimson creature walked right up to the edge of our lawn and sat down to cool himself off on the pavement.
We wasted no time in filling the FOX bowl with water. As soon as we placed it in front of our new friend, it walked right up and stared to drink as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It didn’t stop there. The fox grew increasingly bold throughout the evening, to the point that it was coming uncomfortably close for some of our friends’ liking.
When our human visitors departed, my courageous (or some might say crazy–there’s a fine line) boyfriend walked out and let the fox lick his cheeseburger-scented fingers. His excuse: rabies hasn’t yet made it to England, so at least he’s safe from that.
As for me, I adore our new vivacious visitor, but I’ll continue to keep my distance. Then again, the fox hasn’t come around again since that night, so maybe there are other fox-friendly Americans serving up better water in nicer gardens. Maybe next time we’ll have to break out the top-tier eau de renard; never underestimate the competitive nature of American animal lovers.