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.