Nature at my window

One of the last videotapes I needed to convert was this half-hour of fox cub footage I took at my old place. Recorded years ago with a cheap VHS camera borrowed from the office and shot from behind a screen window, so it’s not the best quality, but it’s still fun to watch. I described the scenario on a UK forum back in 2008:

Here, [foxes are] not the rubbish-rooting scavengers they seem to be in the UK (I saw mom with a rabbit in her mouth more than once), and are a fair amount rarer, so it’s always nice to spot them. In the two or three weeks before I taped that, I had caught brief glimpses among the undergrowth of tiny foxes, as small as 8″ long, and decided to get a bag of dry dog food – figuring they’re closely related to canines – for a bit of nature-watching on a Saturday.

Saturday morning, I set the camera up in a front window and set it recording, thinking I’d rewind after a couple hours and keep trying until they showed up – but they started showing up just ten minutes after I set it up. I got about thirty minutes of footage of them eating and frolicking and chasing each other around like kittens before they each went down the hill, one by one, to the abandoned and quite dilapidated barn where they lived, until one straggler was left, going ’round in circles looking for his brothers and sisters.

For weeks afterward, until they went their separate ways, one or two of the litter would generally be to one side of the driveway when I got home and would nonchalantly look up at me as I passed.

The old place was a modest cottage of 1950s vintage I rented for more than a decade that was situated in the middle of twelve acres of woodland, back about 500 feet from the road. Though the place was tiny, it was fairly quiet – some background noise from the nearby highway – and home to lots of wildlife. The house was quick to heat in the winter and electricity was 1960s cheap because the town makes its own power and, at the time, charged about a third of National Grid’s rates, even giving everyone in town rebates three or four months of the year when they sold excess generated power. Now I’m one town away and paying through the nose for National Grid’s juice.* On the plus side, it’s even quieter where I live now – the loudest intrusion is the occasional low rumble of a freight train moving through town at a stately 4 or 5 mph.

I would have stayed there even longer had the heirs of the elderly lady who owned it not sold the land to a developer a year after she passed – with what I thought a rather discourteous thirty days notice to me. Now, instead of the bubbling brook, a nice mix of evergreens and deciduous, and the deer, pheasants, turkeys, owls, foxes, and turtles, there are three expensive homes with manicured lawns and neat rows of more manageable trees. What a shame.

I believe the soundtrack here is from Tony Furtado’s “Within Reach” (1992).

6am one Saturday morning, an hour after the snow stopped. It really was this striking blue. Click for the original size (this was March 2001, so not all that big).

Click for the original size

“Okay, fellas, let’s knock all this down,” someone probably said. This was the only size of this autumn photo I could locate. That’s unusual and probably means I mistakenly saved the edited smaller version over the original years ago.

*”Choose your own electricity provider” they tell us. Yeah, I looked into that. All the providers offer one- or two-year good deals, but then they can do whatever they like to you. And they do – shocking, ain’t it? – so you’re forced to go to another provider. In my case, I’d save maybe five to eight dollars a month. That’s not worth the admin trouble and what I feel would be intense aggravation at being gouged and re-gouged every year or two.