The Red Fox – A fabulous forest-lurker, neighbour, and totem animal.

Fox hunting for voles and mice.

Our backyard is a special place because of the abundance of wildlife in our neck of the woods. I am extremely fortunate to witness a diversity of animal/bird species who wander through on a regular basis.

One of my favourite visitors is the lovely Red Fox, (Vulpes vulpes).

These solitary hunters are intelligent, opportunistic omnivores, about the size of a small to mid-sized dog, and they rather remind me of a cat because of the way they play with their food, tossing the soon to be meal, (voles & other rodents) in the air with abandon, just before ending this celebration to seriously chow down on their catch.

Like many of us humans, the red fox prefers a diverse habitat! For them, that includes farm fields, forests, the edge of thickets, and even urban settings, where like the racoon they also thrive. From my experience in a rural setting, they hunt in and out of these habitats, which describes our backyard, and is likely why I see them so often.

The adult red fox has a year-round coat of red that is absolutely striking to see in the winter, as you can see it here in contrast with snow.

Yes, there are some people who find satisfaction by wearing these beauties on their own backs. I’m not one of them and prefer to see the animal alive and well, in its own coat. Luckily, I don’t yet carry tomatoes & won’t pelt, (pardon the pun) fur wearing folk. However, I will offer an unequivical icy glare and judge you in a negative light. But, I digress…

Fox with mange.

Foxes are shy animals. They’re mainly nocturnal, but occasionally one will see these non-aggressive creatures during the day. If you see a fox during the day, it doesn’t mean that they are diseased with rabies or mange, though that can be the case. It more likely it means food may be more available for them during daylight hours in their respective environment.

If you’re interested in animal lore and totem animals like I am, there is a phenomenal amount of information available, making the fox an interesting subject to read about in many folkloric and mythic tales.

Consider the term “to outfox“, which means “to beat in a competition of wits”, similarly to “outguess”, “outsmart”, and “outwit”.  If you consider Aesop’s Fables from classical antiquity to Beatrix Potter‘s anthropomorpic stories, there are numerous stories involving a fox in popular culture throughout history.

Fox focus

Within the spiritual realm, they’re considered figures of cunning or trickery, or as a familiar animal possessed of magic powers and transformation.

As for having the lovely fox as a totem animal, it suits me well.

According to many who’ve interpreted the fox as a totem animal messanger, a fox will communicate its presence in order to offer the advice that you should think outside of the box. They also show us how to focus on our goals, and to use our creativity in our approach to current circumstances.

My feeling is that the fox encourages us to be aware of our own habits, (good or bad), adapt to our environment using all of our resources, and that we should refrain from certain distractions that may lead us off course when we want to realize a goal.

In any case, the Red Fox is a wonderful creature and participant in the planet’s food chain. They’re an animal that deserves our respect, and it is a real gift to see them in nature.

 

Forget-me-nots for Mother’s Day, and some folklore too!

The dainty Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica), is a European native now naturalized throughout much of North America.

This harbinger of spring and member of the Borage family, prefers moist habitats and partial shade along the edge of trees or woodland.

Once planted, they’ll likely always be there! They seed readily but are easily removed if one feels they’re starting to take over the garden.

Medieval lore states a knight errant and his lady walked along a river, and that gentleman bent down to pick his lady-love a bouquet of these blue flowers.

Unfortunately, he lost his footing on some slippery rocks and fell into the river. The weight of his armor was too much. His last words cried out before being claimed by the depths was “Forget-me-not”!

To this day, the forget-me-not is given to someone who you hope will keep you in their thoughts.

With that in mind, they grow throughout my garden as a remembrance of my mother who has been gone for many years, along with many other people and yes, pets too!

For all who have passed on but are still wrapped around our hearts and forever in our minds, this little flower is a lovely reminder for us all.

Happy Mother’s Day 🙂

 

Along with beauty and scent, Hyacinth flowers offer us myth and folklore, too!

Several weeks ago we hosted a wonderful family gathering at our home. Because of this, we were the lucky recipients of beautifully potted, forced hyacinths.

A Hyacinth, aka Hyacinthus, are bulbous, perennial plants, native to the eastern Mediterranean from the south of Turkey to northern Israel.

Here in Canada, we plant these hardy bulbs in the fall.  Come springtime, they grow to a height of 6-8 inches, appearing in our gardens after the snow and (hopefully) any frost has gone.

The Hyacinth was so popular in the 18th century that more than 2,000 cultivars were grown in the Netherlands, its chief commercial producer.

I enjoyed the heady aroma of these spectacular spring flowers very much over the course of the following week. When heading upstairs to our kitchen where the flowers were on display, I could smell them before seeing them. Admittedly, I could get used to that!

After such a long winter, (hopefully behind us now, but with today’s weather, that’s questionable), it was a pure feeling of joy to experience the sight of those blooms and their exquisite perfume.

‘The Death of Hyacinth’ by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. – Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Public Domain

These lovely, highly scented Hyacinths earned their name to honour a youth, accidentally killed by his friend and lover, the Greek god Apollo.

Homer wrote that the flowers appeared when the drops of blood from this fallen fellow met the ground.

Many floral enthusiasts like me are curious about botanical symbolism and the history behind flower names.

Any legendary correlations, little known details, quips, lore and tales about the natural world, linking all of it together, are usually a delight to discover!

I suspect any plant one could name, be it flower or tree, has a yarn spinning behind it!

With relation to the natural world, classical literature linked flowers to the gods via epic poems and tales that Homer, Ovid and others have spun, explaining beauty and the creation of so many botanical species.

Others fairy tales include life lessons that even today point out human frailties. Our contemporary society can still learn from these relatable plots as we still manage to trip over our own egos from time to time, not unlike the characters from many a fable.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder to this day we still offer floral tributes honouring people in our lives, marking every event from birth to death, and everything in between, or just because!

As you can see, cats aren’t immune to botanical beauties either. Even my cat Luna likes to stop and smell the flowers!

Have a good weekend, and Happy Gardening!