After two days in bed releasing energy from my back, I checked over my Artist’s Way tasks for the weeks. Morning pages successfully on the go, I still have nine tasks to complete by, oh, tomorrow. One being a twenty minute walk with your artist self.
So I decide to walk around the block in the late afternoon, taking my trusty camera with me.
Ah, cameras, they teach you to see, do they not?
It is blowing and gusty with that tang of stinking hot summer day.
A perfect azure sky embellished with different cloud formations. White clouds pompous and high up, no rain or storm hiding within their grey underbellies.
I follow instinct, turning west.
I keep my eyes wide open.
Someone has become excited by the recent car festival, pouring drizzles of oil over the street.
In the small concrete walkway at the bottom of the street, there are tiny obtuse artistic marvels.
Leaves poking from behind a fence.
An electrical box.
A dislocated piece of machinery abandoned by a fence.
I never knew my suburb held such interesting delights, all within a hundred metres of my house.
My intention was to veer south, making my way down to the green circle of oval filled with tiny bees and tinier grassflowers.
Instead the pull inside my belly takes me north, up along the nature track beside a road.
And then I see it.
Where my belly has pulled me too.
There under the embracing, drooping arms of a gum tree is a fox.
A dead fox.
I am at once repelled and deeply, deeply intrigued. My heart leaps into my throat. Do I walk by, averting my eyes? Should I be unaffected, disaffected? Here this lovely creature is, ensconced in death, the trickster in transformation.
And here the words play:
You always long to be out there, out in the wild, living a shaman’s life.
And here it is. Here is your fox medicine, here is your shaman’s way.
So I make my way to my fox.
I gather sticks and rocks, and I crouch beside him, making a crude, earthy altar.
He is lovely. His fur is soft, glistening, bushy. His magnificent tail. His closed over eyes. I tremble ~ there is so much fox energy in him still that I believe he will awaken. I am thinking of the Bone Woman, of how she sings the wolf’s bones until the fur grows back and his lungs fill with breath, and she sings him back to life.
I look around. Is anyone watching? What will they think of this girl with the dead fox?
I wish I did not care. I only dare be with my fox when he needs me, or perhaps I need him.
I decide to stay a little longer. I sit beside him, my eyes drinking in his beauty, feeling sadness. I wonder if he was hit by a car and dragged here. His paws are curled up beside him, there is no sign of blood. I wonder if he came here to die, curling up beneath the slight shadows of gum to rest from the heat. I think of my fox friend Dave and how he always cried at foxes lying by the side of the road.
I think about death. I think about how sterile and departed we wish death to be from us ~ clean, taken care of by professionals, out of sight. I think of Meta’s transition, and how much needs to change in the way we look at and live with death. I think of my brother, and the very few moments I spent with him after he died. And I think of life growing up on the farm, in the dirt, with death and birth and life all apart of it.
The leaves make shadows on the ground around us.
A helicopter flies overhead.
As I photograph the helicopter, I feel the fox smile at me with its foxy smile, asking: did you catch that one?
In the next suburb over I can see from where I sit the rubbish truck making its slow amble up the slope.
The world goes on as a girl sits with a dead fox.
So I sit there in the dirt, under the gumleaves for a while. The ants crawl into my shoes, and make beelines for the fox’s eyes. He is beautiful still.
I take a deep breath, holding it in. I do what I need to do. I reach out, and I touch Mr Fox, on his forehead, gently stroking his amber fur. His small white teeth show.
I tell him that I thank him, I honour him and I love him.
I ask for Great Spirits to make his transition into great spirit an easy one.
And I just sit there to witness his life and his death.
I look up, and light shines through a tiny, misshapen heart space in the clouds.
Heart space. Yes, that is where it is at.
I stand and leave the furry feet of Buddha, melting into the Australian dirt. From once we were, we become again. The great certainty of being birthed from Mother Earth and birthed back into her.
And I walk on, the girl of the fox,
a small snarl curling my upper lip, fossicking through the bushes for small treasures, tiny miracles and serendipitous trash.
I smell of earth and fox and ants and hot summer wind.
And I feel freer than I ever have before.
There are trees and houses, shadows and light, there are rainbow spirits and flags and chopped timber and rubbish. Forks strewn in the dirt, perfect sculptures of trolleys, and paving that reminds me of my labyrinth walk two summers ago. There is death and there is life, there is grass and there is concrete. There are miracles and yearnings, all at once.
Is this how to see?
Is this what it is to walk?
with love and joy,
leonie the walking woman.