A Surprising Encounter

 

Little Fox

Little Fox (water color on paper; March 2018)

 

Over 3.5 million people and a few thousand foxes live in Berlin, and supposedly the latter can be seen just about everywhere but so far I only ever saw one single fox.

It was a couple of years back when I was on my way back home after a late course at uni. It was winter, bitterly cold and the streets were deserted and dark. When I walked by a little park I heard a rustling noise in the bushes by my side. I hurried my pace but the rustling continued, though barely audible over my fast-beating heart.

I was just considering walking to the other side of the street when suddenly a dark red shadow flashed right in front of my feet and crossed it before me. It was a fox!

I was instantly transfixed – and relieved! – and then a sensation of utter joy flooded through me.

The fox was quickly out of sight again in the dark but I kept walking with a light and happy heart towards the train station, feeling blessed by this small encounter.

As soon as I was in the train I started texting friends and family about this, totally excited and somehow oddly proud of myself.

To my utter astonishment the texts that came back all sounded the same – Wasn’t I afraid the fox could have bitten me and infected me with fox tapeworm and/or the rabies?

I was not. Not one single second as soon as I saw it was a fox did I feel afraid of it. It was so clear to me that he didn’t mean me any harm, maybe was just trying to play a little trick on me by keeping rustling in the bushes beside me or simply wanted a bit of company along the way.

I don´t deny that wild animals can do you harm but most of the time they are just afraid of you or just as curious about you as you are of them.

And I believe that we can instinctively feel if we should be afraid of them or not.

 

Did you have a similar surprising encounter with wild life once? Please let me know in your comments! 🙂

85 thoughts on “A Surprising Encounter

  1. As someone who grew up in the country side surrounded by animals I agree with what you said about sometimes wild animals being just afraid or curious. Beautiful painting! Love foxes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great image and story. My experience is that the vast majority of woodland creatures both big and small have no ill intent towards us. They want to go on their way and live their life. Just don’t try to hold them, pet them or have any other type of physical interaction and you’ll be fine. Have a great weekend, Sarah. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Chris! You have a lot more experience with woodland creatures than I do so I take your word for it! And I think you’re spot on with them only wanting to go on with their way and life.
      And since this fox was hurrying away so quickly I never stood a chance to pet him even if I had wanted too! 😀
      Have a wonderful weekend, Chris! Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • A former professor of mine had a bear’s pelt in her study and of course I asked if I could touch it – it was kind of rough and wiry, not at all cozy, but definitely healthier than touching a still alive one. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your fox is beautiful, Sarah, and I’ve only seen one once. I would’ve reacted as you did, though. The only time I was nervous about wild animals is when my husband and I went backpacking last year (first time for me) in bear country. So, even though black bear aren’t aggressive like grizzlies, I managed to let my imagination get the best of me. We’re going this summer, too, and I promise myself to be calmer because bear sightings are very few and far between anyway. 🙂 Be careful walking down dark streets though – that worried me more. 🙂 Hugs for a happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Lauren!
      I get your nervousness about your hike last year – bears can be a bit unpredictable, although I would love to see one some day. Best thing you can do when confronted with one is not to run wildly away – that only makes them want to follow you. If it´s a really big one, you should climb a tree, that´s what young bears do too because most males are far too heavy to reach up high.
      And thank you for caring about me walking down dark streets – I didn´t like doing this and normally made sure another student was walking them with me but this night no one had to head to the same station as me, which might be the reason why the fox thought it was safe to show himself 😉
      Have a beautiful weekend! Love & hugs!! xoxo ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d love to see a bear, too, but from a distance. 🙂 You’re also supposed to make a lot of noise. It’s like you said, most animals are more afraid of us or have no interest unless they feel threatened. I’m glad you saw the fox. They’re adorable. My daughter saw one in Yellowstone National Park last year and captured a couple of good photos, too. Happy Saturday! 🙂 xo

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so right, Sarah. Animals won’t hurt you unless they feel threatened. I’ve run into lots of wildlife. Mostly when we lived on the mountain. I passed a baby bear when walking my dog. Fortunately the dog didn’t see it. We had skunks in our back yard one night and the dog intelligently backed up and ran back into the house. We had horses follow us home and cows in the front yard. I miss all that. Your fox is adorable. Great drawing. I miss animals in my world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much!
      Wow! Your life in the mountains sounds exactly like what I would like to experience one day, Marlene! And you were so lucky that your dog didn’t notice the baby bear – and even more lucky that its mother didn’t notice you!! I can understand that you´re missing it all very much and hope that you can catch occasional glimpses of wildlife on your walks.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh yes. I have seen fleeing foxes with their lovely brushes, had a copperhead snake rise to strike me because I nearly stood on him, shooed a young deer with a fawn off the road into the woods, looked in astonishment at a 2 foot high Pileated woodpecker, chased a roadrunner up a tree to get a photo, ran swiftly out of a tiger enclosure when I realized the tranquilizer dart did not work and finally got septicemia from a kitten. Wonderful painting of the fox, has painted something similar.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A while back I wrote a post about the Easter bunny and how other animals have also been used in various cultures the represent the holiday. At the time, I was really mad at the stupid, adorable rabbits eating my vegetable garden so I concluded that here in the US we ought to consider firing the bunny and adopting the Easter Fox instead. I couldn’t believe how much push back I got, not from the bunny lovers so much as the fox haters. I never knew people disliked foxes so much. I’m with you. I would have found the encounter delightful, but the I have never had a bad experience with the critters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Sarah! Ooh! I like the idea of an Easter Fox – I bet he would hide those eggs much better and less easy for the kids to find 😉 Maybe even keep them for himself! 😀
      I can never understand how people can hate animals, and am appalled to know that there are indeed people hating foxes. I simply don´t get it and it makes me very sad.

      Like

  7. What a lovely experience, Sarah, and I totally agree that a glimpse of the shy, beautiful creatures is a gift. I rarely see them even though I live in the woods. You’re right that most creatures are happy to avoid people. But if we are respectful and patient, we’ll get to see them now and then. Beautiful painting. You are so talented!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Diana! That must be so lovely to live in the woods, surrounded by the sounds of nature instead of those from construction sites or noisy neighbors – both of which happen to go on my nerves right now as I´m writing this!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Sarah. I’m a forest girl, but there are inconveniences too with being so far from civilization – like having to drive an hour for printer ink or not having gone to the movies in 8 years. But I love the owls, deer, and coyotes. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, here´s the thing, I´m living in a city and I haven´t gone to the movies for ages thanks to ticket prices being rocketing high and the convenience of watching everything at home. But I do miss it occasionally and make a point of watching big blockbusters there (last thing was The Hobbit trilogy).
        And if I want some owls, deer and coyotes for company, I have to go to the zoo! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. A lovely painting! I see foxes occasionally in the neighbourhood where my parents live (they have a creek and some woods nearby). Also sighted one day when I was cutting through a cemetery close to their home, were two young deer – it was something to see them among the statues and tombstones!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! That must have been quite a sight seeing those deer between the statues and tombstones! I once encountered one near a creek whilst hiking through some woods in the Eifel – it was such a magical moment! And then it disappeared so fast it felt like it evaporated into thin air!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I like walking in the cemetery near my office at lunch time and I have seen a fox twice during those walks. Beautiful moment. There is a racoon that comes almost every week to go through my trash. I don’t enjoy that as much. This racoon is huge and once he even tried to get inside my house. I was scared!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to go for a walk in a nearby cemetery too during lunch breaks!! Beautiful and quiet places, aren´t they?
      I´ve heard that if you feed raccoons outside your house, they are less likely to come inside in search of more after going through your trash bins. They like cat food apparently. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • The cemetery nearby my office and home is just awesome. It is like a big garden… No zombies! I love racoons but this one is so big I don’t want to feed it as my neighbour has two cats and I would not want them to confront the racoon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think I would run instead of walking! On Halloween last year they did something very cool but a bit scary. People dressed in old clothing sat on some gravestones. They did not move and appeared to be living dead, ghosts. I unfortunately did not took a walk in the cemetery that day, but I saw pictures in the newspaper the next day. I wonder how I would have reacted? Probably very intrigued and maybe a little worried…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ooh! That must have been an awesome sight! Wish they would do the same here! Imagine the pictures you could have taken! Maybe they will do it again sometime and then you will take a walk among the ghosts. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  10. That was so cool! I like to see fox too. They come out at dusk. They do not intend to attack people most of the time but sometime they do. As the matter of fact, there was a local news about a couple of months back about a fox attacked an old man.

    I have not heard of you can get tapeworms from fox but for sure you can get rabies from fox.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Getting tapeworms from foxes is quite a serious thing here in Germany which is why I was forbidden as a kid to pick strawberries in a nearby forest for example. Nowadays it can be treated but the side effects are quite severe too, so better to be cautious.
      The fox that attacked the old man must have had a case of the rabies I think, I´ve never heard of fox attacks before.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Where I used to live before I had to drive a little back road half in the montains to bring my girls to school and more then once at spring time there were deers crossing.one morning one stopped right in front of the car quite close.Im not sure who between the two of us was more scared.He was beautiful but intimidating those eyes transfixed me and I’ll never forget them🦌

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What a beautiful painting! ❤

    The last time I saw a fox it was trying to go after mom’s chickens. Must have been a young one who didn’t know yet what a spectacularly bad idea that was… cute little bugger, though.

    Where I grew up “surprising encounters with wildlife” are pretty normal, from turkeys to deer, racoons and the occasional little bear getting into the trash cans.

    What did startle me was crossing paths with a wolverine once. It must have been busy stalking something, or otherwise distracted, to let me come so close – and we both kind of looked at each other in a “WTF?” way when we noticed each other 😋

    And I believe that we can instinctively feel if we should be afraid of them or not.

    You’re right – it’s just that we humans often overrule our gut feelings (or don’t listen to them). We analyze when we should feel and listen.
    That wolverine meant me no harm, but it was trying to figure out whether I was a) a threat b) interesting or c) just daft. I apparently convinced it of the latter, because it ambled off after giving what would have been a shrug in a human (blink, twitch ear).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your beautiful comment! 🙂 ❤
      Ah yes, that strained and famous relationship between foxes and chickens! 😀 Glad the ones your mother keeps are well protected.
      How much I would love having more of these encounters with wild life, yours sound wonderful!
      But a wolverine – well, I admit I would be just a tiny bit wary of them at first. And I´m so glad that you both felt comfortable in each other´s company! Like you said, our instincts or gut feelings are way too often overruled and we should indeed learn to listen to them.
      Lately wolves tried to come back to Germany and so many people are against it which makes me feel so ashamed for my fellow human beings. We have no right to drive them out and all it takes for a good relationships between us is more understanding and education on our part. Those wolves mean no harm to little children and if they kill a sheep that sheep very likely was weak or ill anyway. Also there are easy ways how to protect your herds but of course they cost money and people just seem to be too eager to shoot the wolves instead to part from their money. I can literally cry when I read or hear those news, especially since I very much love these beautiful animals that have much more in common with us than most people care to notice.
      Sorry for the rant – I can get carried away sometimes. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not ranting at all, I rather understand how you feel. There are farmers in the US with similar issues, but fortunately the wolves (and other critters) have a vast National Park to roam where I grew up.
        That’s how I know how shy wolves actually are, you’re lucky if you see them at a distance – even in winter when they’re hungry and dare get closer to human dwellings. Germany of course is a lot more densely populated so they hardly have a chance to avoid humans as much as they’d like…

        Yes, the chickens have a mighty defender with a broom 😋 It’s funny how fast the local foxes learned to stay away from the little redheaded lady’s territory.

        The wolverine … well, I was cautious, after the first (mutually) baffled “Whoa, where did you just come from?” moment – and that’s what I’d actually recommend if you ever ran into one 😉 They can be quite fierce. But they’re also incredibly intelligent.
        The thing is, I could tell it was more puzzled and mildly curious (there is no way to mistake an angry wolverine for anything else). So all I had to do was make sure to neither act like a threat or lunch.

        It’s hard to explain, this stuff happens in seconds. Which is why you have to go with your gut. If you analyze you freeze, and then your body language (and scent) may communicate the wrong thing.
        Looking back, I think it could tell I wasn’t frightened, just cautious/observing (like any young predator with common sense would be) and logically interpreted it as “Not worth the trouble, but not dangerous, either”.
        That’s how you get that “comfortable in the other’s vicinity” thing, by respecting each other’s space without aggression or fear.

        I’ve a feeling your fox had a similar ‘thought” as it were. Funny large predator, no threat, no food, but interesting. Soon as he sensed you were getting nervous, he bolted. Nervous big predators can become dangerous, so he decided discretion was the better part of valor. He couldn’t have known you were going to choose Flight over Fight.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Totally makes sense from my point of view! That fox did definitely the smart thing – even though I hardly had it in me to hurt it, only if throwing some paperbacks count 😉 But better safe than sorry!

        The wolves that are trying to settle here again are coming from Poland where they are mostly left in peace when they avoid coming near farms or such.
        Over ten years ago there was a bear coming over to Germany from Austria – it´s such a big event that it made it into the news! – and what did people do? They shot it!! I´m still so angry when I think about it. People around here have so much lost their ability to live in peace and calm with other beings that all they do when feeling threatened is to shoot it at once! And next day they go to the zoo with their kids and oohed! and aww-ed! at the animals there! It really drives me mad.

        Like

      • Aww the poor bear 🙁 couldn’t they just have caught it and hauled it back to a national park? Or are those too small to sustain many bears? You guys don’t have many bears left as it is, I thought?

        Up in the Adirondacks the little black bears can be a bit of a pest, but only when they’re really hungry (a bad year for food, right after they wake up in spring etc). You don’t want to run at them screaming when they plunder your garbage can 😋 but they’re usually very shy.
        I can’t remember anyone in my hometown shooting one, though – maybe fire in the air to scare them away (“Those are my pumpkins, Mister! Bugger off!!”), but that’s it.

        I only ever have heard about wolves in the “Bavarian Forest National Park” near here, I had no idea they’re coming from Poland, too. That’s actually pretty cool, wolves are awesome for the ecosystem. They used to be extinct in my area as well (a few small grey wolves left in Algonquin and the Great Lakes area) but they’ve been slowly trickling back. Canadian immigrants move in also (do they howl in French?) 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think they definitely could have done that with the bear but for reasons unknown to me they decided against it. As far as I know there aren´t any bears at all in Germany anymore, apart from those we keep in our zoos. 😦

        And I totally get that trying to scare bears away from your pumpkins!! LOL! All that hard work and then in a sec it´s all gone!

        I bet Canadian wolves howl in French 😉 They will also have better taste in culinary and fashion aspects of course. 😉 (“Really, you should try white fur next season – so much better for hunting!” 😀 )

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Lovely painting, Sarah. Your fox has a twinkle in its eye. I know there are foxes in our suburbs, but I’ve only ever seen them on the urban fringe. However, I saw one the other night just across the road from our house. Several of our neighbours have chickens so that may have been why the fox was visiting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much! It´s typical for foxes to live on the urban fringes and to hide during the day, so I´m not surprised that you saw yours at night too. 😉 And I hope for the chickens that your neighbors keep an eye on the fox. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Foxes in Berlin? I am not surprised. Wild animals seem to adapt to city life quite well. Here in Western Canada you have deer roaming around on city streets, rabbits living on campus, raccoons becoming a nuisance around our garbage cans and black bears raiding our fruit trees.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The foxes here do indeed seem to adapt to city life quite well, Peter. The ones that are sighted look well fed and thanks to many parks and cemeteries they have enough places to make a home in. I´ve heard that deer are roaming the city streets in Western Canada and even saw it in a documentary once – I would be a little bit shocked (but in a good way), if that were to happen here. 😉 But we´ve got also quite a lot of wild boars here which can be dangerous at times, and people mostly try to get out of their way. And although I know black bears are no teddy bears I would give anything to see one some day!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. The first time I ever saw a live fox, I was walking in the mountains with my head sort of hanging down, thinking to myself. All of a sudden, something told me to look up and there was this big fox standing sideways in the path ahead of me. It wasn’t what I expected to see for a split second I thought, “What a weird looking dog.” Then I realised it was a fox and we just stared at each other. Personally I was in awe. I don’t know how the fox felt. 😉 After a few seconds she (I am certain it was a female) said, “Yip!” and took off down the path, I saw either that fox or one of it’s kinfolk a few weeks later on the other side of the mountain. Mystical.
    I absolutely agree with you about (intelligent) humans being able to sense an animal’s intent. Thank for for your wonderful portrait and the magical story of your meeting with the fox.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your wonderful comment, Oglach! Your encounter with a wildlife fox sounds indeed magical! And my mum had the same reaction when she saw her first one (“what a weird looking dog!” 😀 ). I´m afraid the awe in these sightings is not mutual – they´re probably more annoyed – LOL! 😉 The foxes around here try to do their business in the very early hours of the day when most folk are still sleeping or at dusk when it´s more difficult to spot them. Although I would be so happy to see one again, I´m kind of sad they have to live in a city nowadays. It just doesn’t seem right.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I would have the same reaction as you Sarah. Wild animals do not scare me but fill me with wonder. I really like snakes and have encountered a number of venomous ones but I just calmly admire them.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Another beautiful painting Sarah. I had no idea there were so many people in Berlin. It’s about a million less than all of NZ. No foxes here; I have to be content with beautiful native birds and the occasional hedgehog 🙂 xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Su! It used to be only a million when I was in my teens, but in the last decades more and more people move here which sadly has led to an awful rise in flat rents. 😦 Can´t even begin to imagine that there´s only one million more of people in the whole of NZ! Sounds like heaven to me! LOL! 😀 xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I love foxes! We have a good population of them where I live (semi-rural) but it’s always exciting to see one. They are such nice looking animals! Yesterday we saw a raccoon walking through our backyard. Everyone is afraid of raccoons during the day because they think the daytime ones have rabies and will bite you. I wasn’t sure about that, and this one just looked like it was minding its own business, so I did a little research. Not all raccoons are dangerous during the day. Sometimes they are the moms looking for food! And foxes, they won’t bother you unless you bother them. Love your picture too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment!
      I´ve heard that people in America are a bit afraid of raccoons because of the rabies, and I agree with your research result that not all daytime encounters with raccoons are dangerous, the moms are indeed looking out for food – they do it here too! Though I´ve never seen one, apparently there live quite a few of them here in Berlin too. I guess the prefer the outer districts of the city.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s