This morning, just as K and I were settling into the weekend papers, a crow started making a loud 'caw caw caw' sound from our roof. At first I thought it might be trying to attract a mate, or protect its territory from other crows, but as it continued in a very agitated fashion for an abnormally long time I got up to investigate.
Looking out onto the porch I could see nothing. I looked out the kitchen window and excitedly called K over. Oh, It's a big orange cat she said. Then she put on her glasses and saw the fox resting on the roof opposite, sunning itself.
I saw foxes a few times last year. Once raiding the bins in a vegan cafe I was volunteering in, twice walking through the cemetery hiding between the graves near our house on the way home. The most notable time was last Spring, when K and I were walking home at dusk through the Well Street Common. What I took in the dim light to be two corgis playing and mock hunting in the grass turned out to be two young foxes almost at our feet. We froze and watched them play until they ran off out of the Common towards Mare St. Since foxes are solitary hunters, it's actually quite rare to see two together; perhaps they were a breeding pair.
A quick web search for 'urban fox london' brings up lots of links for pest control. Many people have a strange hatred and fear of the wild. We live in urban environments, cut off from the wider World, apparently no longer able to tolerate the encroachment of wild animals in our midst. We see ourselves as lords over creation, but without a corresponding sense of wonder or humility.
The life of the urban fox is actually pretty hard. Their average life in captivity is about 14 years, roughly equivalent to a dog, out in the wild most die within a year; many from road accidents.
Whenever I see a fox I feel a lift in my spirits, which comes from knowing that we can still experience beings that live amongst us, yet separate from us.