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Possumhaw: Fox by the tail


Shannon Bardwell



I watched for the rising and lowering of the fox's side for some sign of breath. I thought there was none, but you want to be sure before you grab a fox by the tail. I learned my lesson once with a possum. I was sure he had expired when I took him to the critter graveyard near the woods. Only when I got there did I discover he was surely alive. 


The gray fox with a twinge of red in the tail lay in the road. There was no sign of injury. Sam says when we see road kill, "Ah, look at that squirrel [possum, armadillo, bird, butterfly], he shouldn't sleep there." It makes your heart feel better if you lie to your brain saying the poor creature is sleeping.  


Once I was sure there was no life breath in the fox, I grabbed his tail and put him inside the fence. I didn't want speeding vehicles to mangle him. Neither did I want a flock of buzzards to swoop down and tear him to bits. I wanted Sam to see him up close. The fox was so peaceful and perfect looking. It's just another one of those strange things that Prairie women find themselves doing before the day gets started good. It's only later that I wondered what the neighbors would think seeing me with a fox by the tail. They probably wouldn't think anything, and that's scary.  


Once the fox was inside the fence, I walked back to the shed and got a black sack and some work gloves. I returned to the fox and slid him into the bag. He was a small thing but dead things are heavier than they look. 


Sam called and I told him about the fox. We were sad for the fox, that he was hit in the road, but at the same time glad we didn't have to shoot him. We've seen fox running from the lake where they stalk Leah and the peeps, my three pet ducks. We can't have duck stalkers on the place. 


I wondered if Charles Swoope might like the fox since he took that road kill bobcat that time and had him stuffed for his grandson, Alex. I remember Grandpa Charles and young Alex spent a lot of time discussing what predatory pose and facial expression they wanted for the fierce bobcat.  


Oh, and there's Dr. Harry Sherman at Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center. We had the American kestrel that met its demise on our sunroom window. Sam called Willis Pope who came right over and rescued our kitchen counter from the dead bird. Willis then passed the bird on to Dr. Sherman who had it mounted, and that's when it was discovered to be a merlin.  


I think Dr. Sherman gets offered a lot of dead things, but I called him anyway. He thanked me kindly, but said he already had two foxes.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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