Sunday, December 28, 2008

Paved Paradise

My fox died last night. One of my foxes. I saw it lying in the middle of the road, tongue out, a bit of blood. I’m so sad. Okay, so I never got close enough to tell if it was a boy fox or girl fox. I mean, it never invited me over for tea or anything. But, still, we had a connection. I’d slowed my car to point it out to the kids on more than one occasion. I’d watched it look both ways before crossing the road, seen it disappear in the green space that surrounds us. And I felt that I was somehow a greener person, having witnessed this bit of wildness in suburbia.
I like watching nature from my car. In Houston, I watched a Nutria for about 15 minutes from the side of the road. I didn’t know what it was until weeks later (thanks, NG.) I just thought, “Wow, that’s the biggest rat-beaver I’ve ever seen.” I felt so educated when I heard they’d been making their way north from Mexico. Seeking asylum, perhaps, and finding, what?
We have a pet woodpecker we’re trying to tame. Our form of taming involves hammering boards over the holes it’s peppered us with, while verbally encouraging it to have a go at the neighbor’s house. Hey, nature’s great—when it stays in its place.
And that’s the real problem, isn’t it? I’m all for creepy crawlies, as long as they don’t involve the word “roach” or “disease”. I stare for hours at spiders when I’m camping. In my living room, I try to capture them to release them outside. In my basement, I smash them. There’s something nightmarish about spider webs in basements. If they’d just stay in their own place…
Which is, if you look at it, right where I’m living. It’s where I had my house built, where my grocery store is, where the bike path around Alligator Pond took us when we lived in L.A. on the Swamp. And, no, I can’t live in harmony as much as I’d like. I get peeved when I have to clean up my trash because the foxes dumped it over. I get worried when I hear the tell-tale jackhammer sound of the woodpecker on my wall. I get absolutely violent when little rat poops show up in my pantry. We have boundaries, we suburbanites, and nature doesn’t seem to respect those the way I’d like.
But, still, I’m sad. My fox, the mate to the fox with black legs, got hit by a car, probably at night, probably by a car going a bit too fast. And, probably the driver felt bad. Maybe he even called the sanitation department to have the fox removed. Buried, or burned, or dumped. What do they do with the carcasses? Maybe I’ll have a private memorial. With the woodpecker.