it kept running back and forth, trembling and chattering

 Alexandra Bochkareva

A summer day — I was twelve or thirteen — at my cousins’ house, in the country. They had a fox, collared and on a chain, in a little yard beside the house. All afternoon all afternoon all afternoon it kept—

Once I saw a fox, in an acre of cranberries, leaping and pouncing, leaping and pouncing, leaping and falling back, its forelegs merrily slapping the air as it tried to tap a yellow butterfly with its thin black forefeet, the butterfly fluttering just out of reach all across the deep green gloss and plush of the sweet-smelling bog.

— it kept running back and forth, trembling and chattering.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Staying Alive” in Upstream: Selected Essays


Photos: From Autumn and Winter series by Alexandra Bochkareva (via My Modern Met). The dichotomy between the Mary Oliver excerpt and the photographs is that the fox (Alice) is trained and domesticated. Don’t miss the backstory and additional photos at My Modern Met.


  1. freddiegeorgia says:

    Reminds me of my childhood when my mom, who was a biologist, brought home a fox kit a farmer had found. Fox mom had been killed. We kept the kit in our bathroom for awhile. I’m not sure why. There was an ‘animal room’ at the university. Perhaps it was to further teach the professor’s children about the ways of wildlife. And wildlife it was…tearing up the toilet paper and jumping in the bubble baths with us kids. We were enthralled! Eventually the kit was released to the wild. I hope it lived a long life chasing yellow butterflies.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. how amazing would this be? writer, david safaris, has been talking about a local fox, that he has named ‘carol’ who keeps showing up at his house each day to visit him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Once I saw a fox …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I SO miss the red foxes who used to hang around our Maine lakefront property :*(

    Liked by 1 person

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