Doing the Fox Trot...

I'm not talking about the dance.  (I wish I COULD do husband mentioned dance lessons the other day.  Maybe it's time to consider it, but since we rarely have an opportunity to dance...but if we learned maybe we would???)  I'm not talking about the weekly comic strip by Bill Amend.  (Although I do love it!  I read it every Sunday!)  I'm talking about that cute reddish animal.  You know...

It's cute!

Not so much when you are walking along around dawn.

Let's back track a bit, shall we?

We have entered the dog days of summer.  Meaning it's hot and humid. (I'm NOT complaining...I'm simply making an observation.)  The sun, which earlier in the season was peaking over the horizon by 4:30 is now barely visibly by 5:30.  Since I get up around 4:30 and try to be out the door walking within 15 minutes after getting up its still pretty dark when I hit the streets.  I've got the earbuds in so I can enjoy some music.  (Instead of the radio this morning I had on Michael Nesmith & the First National Band Redux Live at the Troubadour which is AMAZING and deserves its own blog post.) I try to keep the music loud enough so that I can hear everything, but soft enough so that I'm aware of what's going on around me.  (Somewhere in between drowning out the trucks that go by, but still being able to hear if someone is going to pass me jogging.) I've got the MapMyWalk app going so that I can monitor my pace (slower than I would like), time (which goes by much faster than I imagine) and distance.  I've got my hand weights.  (Although I'll never had Michelle Obama arms.)

This morning I was out the door by 4:40.  It was still pretty dark out there, which might explain why my first mile was slower than I would have liked.  I should not have been startled when I was about .75 mile when I came upon 2 deer in the parking lot area of the local dermatology group (Not far from where State Route 23 ends and turns into County Road 577).  But I was (slightly).  I've seen deer on this patch before.  What was odd was that one of them had AN antler on one side of his head, but not the other.  The other deer had full antlers and kept running away from me, but was running in the direction that I was going (south) so it wasn't so much running away as it was running TO.  Eventually it got the idea and ran a bit to the west (which was the direction I was eventually going to take when I got to the corner).  Usually I would have rounded the corner and done another lap around the block (which is actually more than a block but that doesn't really matter) so that I could see how far my mile would be. (Using the MapMyWalk app I have found that my mile marker can differ day by day even though I am walking the same route.  I don't quite get it, but I figure it's free and it's close enough most days...)

Today, however, I wanted to head to the far side of town (western quadrant).  With all the rain last week I hadn't done as much walking as I would like.  Summer is when I have more "me" time in the morning, the pressure to get out the door is a little less and I try to put in more miles.  I've also been trying (and failing) to take off the 5 or so pounds that have quickly jumped on to my frame despite my efforts to remove them.  Yesterday, I had walked to one of the highest points in town (where I had a beautiful view of the golf course in the next town over) and partially ended up in the next town. (I was in one of those strange areas where a portion of the road is in my town and another portion is the next town.  For a minute or two I didn't know WHERE I was!). Today I wanted to go back in the same general vicinity.  I may not be walking all the streets of town like I did last year, ( but summer IS the time to trek the road less traveled. (Or the road I travel less!)

By the time I got to the far section of town (again bordering another town), though the sun wasn't completely up, it was pretty light out.  I had actually tried to plan my walk (in my head) so that it wasn't too dark when I was in the area.  Although I'd hardly call the area "remote" it's one of the furthest away from steady traffic and there are no sidewalks. (But I am wearing my pink reflective vest.)  I also don't want to tumble down the hill to my right side as I'm walking (uphill...always uphill!) I was about 3 miles in and entering town again and planning to go one block south and then turn and go west again (out of town...kind of like a big boxy loop) when I saw a fox.

Now I have seen foxes in town before:

Ok, so you can barely seem him in this one, but I took this one morning at the playing field not too far from my house.  I've also seen a fox crossing county road 506 at dawn, running down a pathway to the park, and over the middle school track area.  Not until recently have I really "seen" them.  I always *THOUGHT* I've seen a fox in various places, but it usually is just as the sun is rising and there is a distance so I'm not certain.  As a matter of fact, the first time I  was really able to confirm that I'd seen a fox was when I took this cruddy photo, which was late this spring.  Since that time, I've seen them closer up and more distinctly (later on in my walk when the sun is up a bit more).

This morning my encounter was a little bit more up close than I would have liked.  The fox was on the front lawn of a house I was passing.  We looked at each other.  I kept going.  He followed.  I turned the corner and started up the next street.  So did he.  I made a stand and looked at him.  He backed off a bit.  I kept moving (uphill...remember...always uphill!).  He followed.  He wasn't close enough for me to feel threatened, but he was close enough to make me feel uncomfortable.  (Like, why is this fox following me???)  I turned a kind of made a mean face and shook my arm (with a 4 pound weight in hand) at him.  He backed off a little.  I kept going uphill.  I was walking faster than I would have usually (especially since I was going uphill!).  He kept following.  This was making me a little nervous.  He wasn't the cute red fox that I'd seen in photos.  (Like the one at the top of this post which I found on line).  He wasn't mangy, but he wasn't cute either.  If he had gotten much closer I probably would have thrown one of the weights at him.  But he didn't.  I kept going uphill as fast as I could walk (without breaking into a run) and eventually when I looked back he was no longer there.

When I got home later (sweaty and disgusting; it may have been 6:30 in the morning but it was already 80+ outside), I googled "should I be concerned if a fox follows me?" and the humane society's page on foxes ( said the following: “Foxes have a natural fear of people. If you see one outside during the day, it's no cause for alarm. They will usually run away from you as soon as they detect your presence. If not, the fox has probably learned to associate people with food (likely because someone has been feeding them), and may exhibit a boldness or even approach you. These foxes can easily be scared away by making loud noises such as yelling or blowing whistles, dousing them with water hoses or squirt guns or throwing objects such as tennis balls toward them."

So clearly my instincts were on target.  Next time (if there is a next time), I'll turn and yell at him (hopefully not disturbing the neighbors...they all have central AC right?), stomp my feet and if I have to throw a weight in his direction.  

But let's face it; I'd rather my fox sightings be from a distance.  And I'd prefer my foxtrotting to be on the dance floor!


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