Last week, as I was driving to school, a red fox sprung out of the ravine next to the Little Maquoketa and crossed the road. I slowed down and pulled off the road to watch this majestic animal. As he got to the other side he turned and looked at me. His face reminded me of my Pomeranian at home.
I thought about him and wondered about his habitat and how he lives here in Iowa. The red fox is versatile and intelligent. He is a skillful, solitary hunter who preys on mice, rabbits, birds, and insects. But he will also eat fruit, vegetables, frogs and worms and even dog food! I am sure our forest area and meandering streams is a great habitat.
His thick tail helps him balance. He also uses its tail to cover him in cold weather and to communicate with other foxes. Foxes also communicate with each other by making scent posts using trees or rocks to let other foxes know they are around.
In winter, foxes meet to mate. The vixen (female) usually gives birth to a litter of 2 to 12 pups. Red foxes are brown or gray when they are born. After the first month, they grow in a new red coat. Both
parents care for their young through the summer and then the children go out on their own.
There is something special about seeing the change of seasons. When I was in California the weather changed a little from sunny to rainy. However, the temperature remained fairly mild and the trees rarely lost their leaves. But here in Iowa, I have been awe struck with the seasonal cycle. I have now been here for 9 months and have experienced the beautiful fall months when the trees display an array of yellows, reds and oranges. Just walking down the driveway from the lodge I felt like I was in a magical land. It gave me a sense of connection with the land and an inner peace that transcended my understanding.
As fall turned into winter, I watched mother nature spread a fluffy blanket of white snow over the rolling hills. It was as if she was bedding down for the winter and teaching me to slow down a little and enjoy a hot cup of tea. I saw the land in a new way as the winter months unfolded.
Now it is March in Dubuque and I really appreciate the sun. Yesterday I stood outside and simply allowed the sun to cast a warm glow over my face. I have never anticipated spring with such enthusiasm before this year. I am watching as the buds begin to emerge on the trees and the daffodils pop up out of the dirt.
Being able to experience the change of seasons has given me more appreciation of the cycle of nature that is so evident here in Iowa. I know I am thankful for the lesson. I don’t take it for grant so much anymore because it is no longer out of sight- out of mind, but present in each day in my small town.