What You Have Tamed

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox.
“But you must not forget it.
You become responsible, forever,
For what you have tamed.”

Antoine de Saint Exupery

Gray Fox arrived to the walled garden as a delicious secret. Appearing unexpected and for the first time at the townhouse,  for cover the sparseness of the desert willow saplings.  More prancing movement than form-along the  late afternoon shadow-for the  length of hedge. Through the cover of the willows again. In a  quick graceful leap Gray Fox is atop the vine sheltered corner where garden walls meet,  takes a good look about and then curls up nicely in repose. She has a full view  of the garden,  and a quick vanish option by simply slipping over to the other side and gone. She has a full view of me.

An estimate would be that Gray Fox is about two feet in length with a tail to match that two full feet, fifteen pounds,  and appears to me a young adult. A full healthy coat of thick fur which runs from gray to rust to white with black accents and trim. Golden eyes that stare deep.

Gray Fox will mate,  somewhere between January and April  in the Southwestern United States, often birthing a half dozen pups.  Her mate and her stay together for the romance through the rearing of the pups, with shared responsibilities. Pups are weaned at three months, taught and able to hunt on their own at four months, and leave their parents in the autumn of the year. Gray Fox and her mate may or not seek out and choose each other to mate and rear offspring again,  their  average lifespan being six to eight years.  Gray Fox’s extended family is scattered far and near, not a red alert threat for extinction, but there are often serious concerns due to habitat loss, poor quality habitat, food sources, disease, parasites. Some diseases and parasites being contagious to other species.  Being caught out and killed by humans, bobcats, golden eagles, great horned owls is possible for Gray Fox.

Gray Fox eats rodents, insects, fruits, vegetables, and birds. Rabbits are a favorite as are  grasshoppers and crickets currently bountiful. It’s important not to habituate them to humans by feeding, they are wild things best left wild.

Gray Fox is secretive, nocturnal, moves about mainly at dawn and dusk, avoids confrontation, is excellent at camouflage, tree climbing, and if forced capable of a good winning fight.

Gray Fox has showed up throughout my life, observed and gone dozens of times and places. On a Cottage Roof along Pamlico River, high above  in a Pine in deep Oregon woods,  a chicken coop in New Jersey, Heart Island as a child.  Never tame or taming, the periodic and fleeting visits always honored as a gift. A pattern and portent of coming change and transformation observed.

In 1997 my dear friend Bonnie gifted me with the book , Animal Speak by     Ted Andrews. Ted Andrews wrote in seductive and beautiful words  of  the mythological, metaphysical, mystical, historical, shaman, and spiritual realm connection of critters. Basically the belief is that  species appear to individuals  with signs and messages.  By observing their behavior and attributes, and the careful consideration of circumstances in life when they show up, they are designated as an individual’s totem. Having Gray Fox as a totem is overflowing with mystery and magic. Who wouldn’t want to embrace the fun of  life charged up on Feminine Magic, Shape-shifting, Cunning,  Big Transition, Supernatural Power, Freeing of the Creative Force, and the ability to dwell ‘Between Worlds’ – ‘Mix this Sedona Speak with my  preexisting science background, and lifetime wanderlust it can surely  make for a fairly exhilarating day.  I do believe I choose  Shape-shifting, Feminine Strength,  and Camouflage as my choice of  prancing through this season of holidays with calm, safety, and joy.

Over the years I have been told and read many stories about Gray Fox. Of the Choctaw Tribe who believe Gray Fox is the protector of the family, the Apache story of Gray Fox stealing the fire from the sun and gifting it to humans.

Acknowledging the message from Gray Fox of possible big upcoming transformation,  I encourage Gray Fox take  a quick exit back to Coconino National Forest that borders this Planned Unit Development where humans may not see magic transformation in progress  in sighting that  big  bushy tail.

In response to WordPress Photo Challenge: Transformation

A safe and joyful holiday season to each and everyone. I send a heart filled with gratitude for your kind words, support, insightful smart websites, shared lives, and feeling  of community  that we have shared throughout the year.


Gray Fox : Order: Carnivora Family: Canidae
Genus: Urocyon


  1. I really enjoyed creating this particular photo essay. Foxes are every bit as good at camouflage as the lizards here in the high desert. I decided long ago that when I see a Fox, it is because the fox is choosing to show itself to me. Thanks for sharing a Fox story, and thank you for your kind words.

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  2. What a graceful and delightful tale, JoHanna. Grey Fox sounds like a perfect totem for you. We had a pair living on our property for a while. But distemper wiped out the local population. They are gradually making a come back. When one was killed down on the road in front of our property, its partner sat down there for several nights howling in agony. –Curt

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  3. What a wonderful narrative. I loved the line, “In a quick graceful leap Gray Fox is atop the vine sheltered corner where garden walls meet…” It captures that exquisite moment where reality and mystery merge to form a lasting memory. Just perfect. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  4. Thank you Nancy. I am always amazed at the variety of wild critters that show up in the neighborhoods. Hope your Thanksgiving went well and joyous and that you are embracing the holiday season with joy. All my best to you my Arizona friend.

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  5. Such a beautiful description of the Gray Fox! Loved your story telling along with descriptive facts! What beautiful pictures you got of this gorgeous creature! Thanks my friend!

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  6. Yes, they are shy and elusive and these visitations only occur every couple of years. But they do occur, and it has always just been magic for me. Thank you for your comments and your contributing to the conversation.

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  7. Beautifully told. What a gorgeous fox! And you got such great pictures of her visits. I loved that you were both telling a story and providing factual information and your own experience.
    Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving too!

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