msb ~029 Beyond the background wild #1

Beyond the background wild #1

Fox time

Thinking about those moments when I’ve really encountered wild animals, I realise there are very few true moments. Beyond the ‘background wild’, I mean. Yes, crows call from trees as I pass beneath, a deer runs from me in the woods; or I spy a fox just sitting in the sunlit field, watching its world. The spiders and flies and (when there was a cat) fleas in the house. Very few true moments: encountering something wild encountering me, when we break through the veil and see each other across the divide.

A time at university, decades ago, still fresh: late one night, walking back alone from the other side of the campus, and a barn owl crashes down out of the floodlight above the narrow path beside the tennis court. Caught between chainlink fence and trees, we were both taken by surprise. Had I interrupted its path to a mouse? Huge, it stalled itself in mid-air a few feet from my head. An instant of frozen white wingspan, bottomless black eyes, claws thrust forward. Then it crashed off up through the trees again. Nothing but the fast thump of my heart and the night-silence night echoing around me.

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