I have two magical daughters. This story concerns the younger one, Elly, who as a toddler befriended an imaginary red fox. I won’t divulge the fox’s name, because he told it to her, not me. I used to hear her side of their conversations. “My friend Leah said God is everywhere,” I heard her say when she was three (she was in the empty kitchen, I was in the adjoining room). “Does that mean God is sitting on me?” I think this is a solid question, though I didn’t hear what the fox answered.

The first time Elly visited me in the California countryside, a red fox–rare in these parts, where grey foxes prevail–walked in front of our car, stopped, and stared at us calmly. We began to give her fox-themed gifts. The holidays, when my kids come to stay, got ridiculously foxy. Look:

This year, the day my daughters arrived, so did Sol (short for The Solstice Fox). Mangy, skinny, and shivering, he crouched right by the front door, squinting at us as if to say, in a quavering mangy-skinny-foxy voice, “Is Elly here? Elly, is that you?”

He looked so miserable a visiting neighbor suggested a festive holiday euthanasia-by-shotgun, which didn’t go down well in our animal-loving, bleeding heart family. Instead, we had the following discussion:

“Hey, why don’t we give him what’s left of that chicken we ate last night?”

“Wait, do foxes eat chicken?”

“Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Fox in the henhouse’? What do you think he’s doing in there, sketching?”

I left the half-eaten chicken carcass a few feet away from Sol, who looked troubled, but was too weak and miserable to run away. A few minutes later, my other magical daughter, Kat, saw him with the chicken, not sketching it:

 Watch another Sol, The Solstice Fox, video.

The next day, Sol trotted past the house, eyes open, head up. For the rest of the holiday, we put the leftovers of our feasts where he could find them. By New Year’s Day, he was downright frisky.

I’m glad Elly’s imaginary friend wasn’t a bear, or a mountain lion, or a dragon, because we don’t have room up in here for that level of festive. Sol the fox was perfect.

So happy 2017, my friends, and remember this year to use your imagination deliberately and wisely. It really does seem that whatever holds our attention, whatever calls to us, eventually comes calling.

5 replies
  1. Kathy McNea
    Kathy McNea says:

    Such a delightful testament to the power of imagination. Sol is one smart, lucky fox who, by listening to his own primal intuition, intimately impacted his new two-legged family far beyond what any mind's eye could conjure and gifted you with a divine, cherished memory which will never be forgotten.

  2. Jules
    Jules says:

    I love this. I had an experience where Bear kept showing up for me – spiritually. Then I met a bear cub in the middle of town who approached me, hid behind a tree just a few feet away – and then just disappeared. I spent over an hour looking for him, worrying that he was too young to make it on his own – though I had no idea what I was going to do if I found him. A few bear sightings later, I'm helping to release 14 bear cubs back into the wild at a wildlife refuge I had just started volunteering at. That wasn't planned. It seems that spirit in all its forms informs the material world in amazing ways to let us know we're not alone.
    I'm so glad that Sol got better and that your family declined your neighbor's (perhaps compassionate in his mind) solution.


    For me foxes are a personal 'spirit animal' too. So I must share, and HIGHLY recommend the most wonderful book for anyone who likes foxes…."The Foxes of the First Dark" by Garry Kilworth, 1989, British title. This creatively imagined adventure and love story completely captures the real behavior we humans observe with foxes, and yet imagines the most incredible conversations, and challenges they might have in actual life. This story is in the style of "Watership Down" (about a rabbit colony) and charming as anything you'll ever read.

    For 15 years I loved a red dog, with velvet-like pointed ears, and a huge furry tail. Shakari was a Chow/Shepard mix, but looked so like a fat fox that she startled people who thought she was a "wild animal' as she ran along the forest paths where we walked.

  4. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Words, images and feelings are like rocks thrown in a pond, resulting in expanding concentric circles. Perhaps it's just coincidence, but given the relative rarity of the name, it's odd to read about Sol the Fox on the heels of binge watching two shows featuring a Sol (Saul): Frankie and Grace and Better Call Saul.

    Of course, the seemingly disparate co-occurrence of Sol (and perhaps my need for some "sol" (sun), as well, is often meaningful only to the observer.


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