A Fox and Its Reflection


After a really great time Friday evening with my parents, two sisters, a brother-in-law, and a nephew, I got up early Saturday to kayak for a bit on Lake Hartwell. I made it to the boat landing near my sister’s house (where I spent the night), and no one else was around; I had expected more activity on a Saturday morning on a major recreation/residential lake, but my hour and forty minutes on the water were largely undisturbed by other humans.

Water levels were low, which is not unusual. Lake Hartwell is a massive impoundment formed by one of several dams across the Savannah River. The power plant in the dam produces electricity for a large region of South Carolina and Georgia. Several other rivers and many creeks are caught up in the flow stoppage, making Hartwell a seemingly endless system of coves and fingers, reaching into the upper piedmont hills of the two states. Because of the steady need for water to operate the turbines, and the less-than-steady supply of rain over the past few decades, the normal view of the lake is a diminished water surface rimmed by a wide band of muddy, rocky beach.

Not long into my paddle, I saw a red fox on the beach, but it ran quickly into the woods, its white-tipped tail flashing. A few birds were singing, but it was mostly a quiet morning. I moved swiftly past many lakefront houses, past pontoon boats and fishing boats at docks, and past canoes and a few kayaks untended on the shore. I chose a route that I thought would bring me to some marsh and mudflats which are visible from a bridge on I-85, and eventually the area came into view. Mudflats are exciting places because they attract a wide variety of local waders and migrating shorebirds. Present there were Killdeer, Great Blue Herons, a few Great Egrets, and a Green Heron. I went up the creek toward the bridge until I was rubbing sand on the bottom.

After turning around, I continued my workout back in the direction I had come. One motorboat passed, and later I spoke with a fisherman, whose boat was tied to the Hwy. 178 bridge; those were the only people I encountered until landing. As I came around a bend, I saw movement on the beach and recognized the fox again. This time it lay down, presumably to wait for me to vacate the area. For a few minutes, we watched each other, and the kayak drifted in closer and closer. Finally, deciding I was as close as it needed me to be, it stood up, trotted to the woods and rejoined the unseen.

Sometimes after Sunday morning, or other times when people have been watching me, it feels natural to walk away, close a door, become unseen for a while. To be wrapped in a forest means diverting the biased eyes of those who understand little yet assume much. And realizing this, I admire the ones who will go, escape, retreat. They emerge later back into view, with a spirit balanced by their own natural wildness, capable for a while longer of surviving a crowded world, with a genuine smile that people stop to notice…like a fox on the beach.

Published in: on July 8, 2007 at 7:33 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Got this address from your email–I didn’t know you had this blog! I have added it to my “feeds” and will be keeping up with it now!

    Yep, pretty small type here. I have a wordpress blog with fairly normal-size type and photos so I know they have the templates for them. I use “Sandbox”–very plain but allows for larger photos than most.

  2. I really enjoyed your thught-provoking musing today! My natural tendency is to fade into the forest too much. Balance is the key. 8-]

    How I miss the foxes, for which we named our place, that wandered regularly across our yard before we got a dog. Such elegant little creatures.

  3. Welcome, and thanks for coming by, Peggy. Please visit whenever you can. I’ll continue to check other theme possibilities to get that right combination of photo compatability and readable text size.

    And Sophie, thank you again for reading. “Elegant” is the perfect word for foxes.

  4. Its funny how people meet and even though you live on the other side of the US. You made my day. I will be able to smile, hopefully soon. I found that when I am out in nature and with my camera I am at peace with the world and myself. Again thank you for what you said and yeah I am the oldest of six kids (three are step-siblings). Says you are a pastor, what type of church?

  5. United Methodist — you know, the “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” people.

  6. very cool. I go to a cavary chapel church

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