October, birth cave of my soul; the tipping point of the year. When nights are no longer gently drawing in but rush-pushing and pressing harshly on retreating daylight, moving it along with a bullying sneer. The month of big moons, clear cold-pattern stars, new flight paths.
A month of trying to keep summer alive, burning candles at both ends, old pullovers, new fleeces and ornamental weeping acers becoming fountains of candy colours in pewter mists. Fall. Car headlights sweeping the ceilings and ghosts of the smell of smoke on the now-alien outdoor air.
I am resting after an emotionally draining day at work. Timetables switched, challenges met with a smile. Shortened dinner break, intensity. But satisfied. I can still do it. New music in the car on the way home. Still : enjoyed the lyrics and musical partnership. But the spill of light from the corner uplighter and the warmth of the gas fire are welcome. I huddle up on the floor, TV on for the sound, if not the news. It’s not company but it helps. Beyond the leaded windows the garden looks dark, mysterious and … something else that I have no vocabulary for, something dark and faerie. Enticing, but not.
Later, while at the keyboard (upstairs) I hear the vixen. I have watched this beast so often this year, admired her fluid agility as she scales fences, rolls tail in tongue and fang-filled mouth on our lawn, walks atop the brick wall, disappears at will. But now, for the first time she is intense, keening. I know of no verb for the sound that foxes make; it is unearthly, sounds to be coming from a mythical beast, a larger, more threatening animal, or a haunting, damned spirit – in tortured pain. It sounds on both the out breath and the in, seemingly physiologically impossible. She is following instinct-blood calls. Denying those closest to her, casting them out with this scream-choke coughing mantra. Obeying the ultimately foolish need to claim territory, to stake it out, make it known. That which drives her may hasten her demise, but she simply cannot do otherwise. It is the sound of frustration. Forlorn, hopeless yearning.
She is crying, as she and her sisters must do every year, for what she has lost, what has been taken away from her. Maybe she senses them this evening, those proud-to-be-crazy forebears on this same crazy-to-be-proud ritual. She may wear the skin of the rabbit stealer, hen thief, but is so much more this evening, because she recalls. Seer-like, she recalls the past and the future, travelling the kaleidoscope between them with careless-dance, black-socked steps.
She is crying for what she wants, needs, what she must have, yet cannot find. A mate, security, a day gone to be brought, magically, back and lived again. For memories, so clear they are yet to be lived. For her children, her own mother, her dances in jealous moonlight.
For the things she can never have … and never be; the glory of life that is yet to be; that will be taken from her, weeping away, maybe tomorrow, maybe in the depths of this, or next, winter.
Her song is meant for her own kind, but we would all do well to listen. And think.
11th October, 2012