Thursday, May 26, 2011

And the fox says...

Who among us hasn't sat with a toddler and played the old "The cow says 'moo'" game? I can't imagine how many times over the decades I've wracked my brain to come up with a different critter to ask about in one of these matches of the wits. I must say, though, "FOX" never entered my mind!Let me backtrack a bit.

The other night, I lay quietly awake in my bed listening to the mysterious sounds of the night. This was unusual in that it's rare that I am awake for more than a minute or two once my head hits the pillow at night. It's also really strange that it should be so quiet at that moment. The Big Guy was asleep in his chair in the other room at the time, so there was no loud snoring beside me.

The windows were closed but the sounds from outside penetrated their way into the room. I noted a strange pattern of sounds that seemed to answer each other. A series of three "ooo-ooo-ooo", followed by what sounded like a poor imitation of "woof-woof" and then a series of three whistle-like sounds. It repeated many times over before I finally fell asleep.

The dog-like bark definitely sounded fake. I was sure it was a human creation.

Behind our house, we have woods with a stream and marsh land and a fair representation of animal-life. Only a few hundred yards across from the front of our house, however, is a medium-sized apartment complex catering to a transient, young adult population which presents a constant flow of traffic and activity. It is not unusual to see people standing around outside talking, smoking or just generally "hanging" at all hours of the day and night.

I chalked the odd sounds up to some sort of "code" being conveyed among those folks much like the signals we created as children. I mentioned it to The Big Guy the next morning but soon wiped it from my mind.

Well, summer arrived in these parts today. It was hot and sticky all day. After dinner, we gathered around the Tiki Bar in our neighbor's yard (What a great neighborhood!) for a cold beverage and some good conversation. For entertainment, we plugged in the bug zapper and watched the show. (It doesn't take a lot to amuse us!)

Before too long, the concert I'd heard the other night began again! This time, without the closed windows, it was easy to identify the first set of sounds as an owl's call. It's not an unusual sound in this area. I'm almost ashamed to admit I didn't recognize it the other night.

My neighbor was quick to identify the "bark" as that of the fox! This surprised me. I've been around foxes all my life but never gave any thought at all to what sound, if any, they made! We have a pair that live directly behind our house in the woods. My neighbor even feeds them occasionally. As if to reinforce his assessment, the fox quickly put in an appearance strolling along the edge of the yard. He stopped to pose in the glow of the spotlight on the shed but was quickly frightened by the sound of the bug zapper and fled into the safety of the woods.

In case you're wondering, the last of the sounds, I believe, was a tree frog. They have a variety of sounds in this end of the world and they are plentiful.

So, next time someone asks, "What does the fox say?" You'll know the answer to be "WOOF! WOOF!"

Have a good summer weekend, y'all!!

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