A tiny sprinkle of rain and an overcast sky did not put a damper on our anticipation of a Memorial Day holiday ride across my parents old farm on the 4-wheeler. Unbeknownst to me at the time it was to be one of the last carefree mornings I spent with my husband of many years, Dennis Hardin.
We lolled and lulled along, enjoying the rolling landscape, the little pond surrounded by cattails, the crocking of frogs, the bales of new mowed hay marching across the fields, the smell of wild honeysuckle (yellow and gold) that hugged the fencerows. We were coming back up the east side of the field when Dennis spied a little fox caught in a bale of hay. The hay was bound with twine, and the fox was at the bottom of the bale, half hidden by the hay. His right hind leg was caught in the binding twine and about to encircle his throat from his struggles to free himself.
He was a beautiful little fox--a baby--with captivating brown eyes, a soft mouth, and perfectly symmetrical ears--a face that bespoke of youth and innocence. He was barely weaned, yet there was an impatience about him that comes from living in the wild.
How to loosen him was the problem. Since he partially covered by the hay and attempted to bite the stick Dennis put up gently to him, we knew he still had plenty of life. He was either badly bruised or had cut himself since a few green flies had gathered around for the kill.
There was no was to loosen the twine, now triply knotted and tightly bound round the bale. We had nothing with us to cut the cords that bound him in his prison. We raced back to the barn to get a pair of sheers to free him and were back in about ten minutes.
Our brief absence seemed to have resigned him to his fate. Dennis held him with little resistance on the fox's part, while after several tries, I cut through the twine. He was free. Swiftly as a bird he was into his underground hole a mere three feet away from where we stood.
Since then I've wondered, was his fate that afternoon accidental or pre-ordained? Like Burn's mouse, did the "best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray?" And the best laid plans of foxes, too -- did they, like humans, somehow manage to get to their destinations, though often through a labyrinth of unforeseen tangles?
Dr. Elizabeth Harden, retired professor from Wright State University in Dayton, OH is our guest writer for this post. She is no stranger to Ono County.
The delightful "Fox in the Hay" sketch is by Barbara Appleby.
Nash Black thanks both ladies for their efforts contributions to this blog.