Last night my wife mentioned that she had seen a fox down the hill near a small seasonal stream that runs through our land. She spoke about its color and its beauty, and hoped that my dog would not find it.
I agreed, but did not speak of another fox, or of my dog, Rory. It was about the same time of year last winter. I was walking with Rory down near the stream and chanced to see on the side of the path a small dead fox. Walking up to it, I knew it had to have died sometime since the morning before, since I walked this path every day. I saw Rory looking guiltily, keeping his distance, and I understood at once that Rory had killed the fox. Bending down, I saw that the fox appeared unharmed. Rory is a Brittany, a breed of dog used for hunting, and part of the breeding is for a characteristic called “soft mouth.” This is bred into the dog to insure that he does not chew on a bird when he returns it to his master, leaving it whole for the humans to consume.
The silver and orange fur of the fox glistened in the sunlight. I reached down and stroked the fur, touching its still perfect body. I picked up the dead fox by its tail and walked to the trash bin, down by the road, with the intention of disposing of the remains. The fox in my hand seemed in every way still capable of being alive, but it was only a body. Coming to the trash bin, I was unsure how to proceed. To just toss the body into the bin was out of the question, on the other hand a ceremony of some sort seemed absurd. Finally, I just stood there, stroking the fur of the fox, and thought a little of my own parents who have both died. Thought of them, and then thought about this mystery of life and death. The form in my hand, soon to be consigned to a garbage dump, was only a short time ago the vessel for a life force, the same force that runs through you and me.  
When the fox’s body was animated by this force, she had been, like Rory, a hunter, searching through our tall grass for mice to kill and devour. How can it be that this force of life was there only hours before and is now gone. Where to? What is over that hill, waiting for all of us, waiting for all of the living things of creation? Of course, no answer came to me. I stood a moment, then laid the body of the fox in the bin and turned and walked back up the hill, with Rory following behind me. 
“I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.”  
   –Walt Whitman
Your comments are welcome.


  1. Ah, a fellow reflector on the twilight of life and all that entails. So many dreams of late take me back to some of my strongest memories and I wonder if this is how we prepare. To look back before we enter the next phase. Because of my strong faith, I don’t fear death. I know I will see my loved ones who have gone ahead of me. I think of meeting them again, recognizing them immediately just as my father, on his death bed, disengaged from my mother and me while his closed eyes looked upward and he called out, his last words spoken, “Franz”. I was struck by what I had just experienced–my father had not spoken to or been with his brother for at least 50 years or more. I felt blessed in deed to have witnessed this reunion between two brothers.

  2. Thank you, Mitzi. I think you are on to something very true in regards to dreams and memories. Our subconscious is the repository for truths that are not accessible to our waking mind, and, if so, certain dreams, memories and premonitions are much more valuable than we may know. Your description of your father becoming aware of his brother is a remarkable story. It is all a great mystery, with hints coming to us, but only hints. Best regards, “fellow reflector”. Dennis

  3. This morning at my reflection time by the fire, I allowed your words to seep into my awareness and dwell there. It does seem that as I grow older, the threshold between animated life and the mystery of death is more real. If this life is a transient, momentary fluctuation of energy, it makes me wonder what “frequency” I will become and if “I” have any influence over it.

  4. Dear Gaea, thank you for your thoughts. The question of death is really the foremost question, isn’t it? I think your observation about that threshold of which you speak becoming more real with age is my experience, as well.
    Best wishes, Dennis

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