You're my favorite.

No, really - you are.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A little wildness

Living in central Denver, we don’t see a lot of wildlife around our house. Frequently squirrels, occasionally bunnies, many pigeons (many, MANY pigeons), but not much beyond that.

Last night, we saw a fox outside our house.

It’s not uncommon to see a fox here or there around Denver. I believe the first dens were in the Polo Club grounds (a high-end residential gated community in the middle of the city), or at least that’s where I first saw them. Driving home from a friend’s or a date late at night in high school, I’d glimpse a bushy red tail darting into a bush or a dark form running quickly down the street, seemingly unaware of the cars driving by. They spread, and now they’re more common – I know of dens in Wash Park and Congress Park, because those are the other areas I’ve seen them, but I’d imagine they’ve made homes in other neighborhood parks and open spaces as well. But I’d never seen one so close to home before.

It was late, close to 4am, and we were sound asleep, until Wilbert jolted awake suddenly, jumping off the bed, running to the window and barking and barking and barking. We heard an answering bark outside, and looked out. A dog was in our neighbor’s yard, digging. Our neighbor doesn’t have a dog – he doesn’t even live in the house full time yet because he’s remodeling. The dog was in the shadows and we couldn’t see much about him, except that he was big, probably 70 or 80 pounds. I called animal control to see if they’d come get home; it was late and there weren’t many cars out, but our street is still busier than most and I didn’t want him to get hurt. They said they couldn’t come till 6 but would do it then. Eventually, Wilbert stopped barking and we all settled down again. Ten minutes later, we heard another bark outside. Wilbert flipped out again, this time whining as well as barking. Ben went to the window to see what was going on. The dog was now on our yard, walking up our sidewalk toward the porch. Ben went out to the living room to see if the dog was going to come to the door, though I don’t know what we would have done if it had…certainly not let it in or open the door. I got out of bed to look too. I didn’t see a dog. I saw a fox.

I thought at first it might be a large cat, but the tail was too full, and it didn’t move like a cat. Its path was unpredictable, darting back and forth across the sidewalk and onto the lawn, occasionally circling, sniffing the ground and sometimes the air. It too ran to our neighbor’s yard, seemingly interested in the same spot the dog had found so attractive. I watched it a bit longer until it suddenly stopped and lifted its head. Then it darted into the street, under a parked car. I looked, but I didn’t see which way it went after that, down the street or across or where.

A few seconds later, the dog ambled back out; he must have been exploring the neighbor’s unfenced backyard. He sniffed the air for a moment but didn’t seem aware of the wild animal that moments before had been so close.

Again, Wilbert settled down. Again, we went back to bed. We had one more round of barking later, just a few minutes long, then the rest of the night was quiet.

But as I lay in bed, I thought about the fox. Last night was the longest I’ve ever seen a fox so close. It can’t have been there for more than a minute or two, but it was so beautiful to watch. I don’t know if this was a fox from Wash Park or a den on the Platte River or perhaps from somewhere else entirely, venturing out to find food. I hope it comes back, although I probably won’t see it if it does since I’m not usually up that late or that early. But it’s nice to know that Denver still has a little wildness in it, that all the construction and cars and cement haven’t driven away every creature. At least not yet; I hope not ever.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I know.

My sister called me tonight.

She said that she just wanted to make sure that I knew she loved me.

I said that yes, I knew, what was going on?

She said she just wanted to make sure I knew that.

I asked what was up.

She said that a friend's brother had killed himself yesterday.

I never knew this boy. I barely know the friend. I'm four years older than Amy, and she and this girl were friends in high school. We've met, I've heard stories, but I don't know her in any significant way.

Amy's told me about this boy before. He's schizophrenic....was schizophrenic. He started running away from home when he was eight or nine. Amy's friend would go after him, find him, scream at him, plead with him, make him come home. She's only three or four years older. That's too young for that kind of responsibility.

Their mother is an alcoholic. Recovering, for a while, when this boy was doing better, taking his medication, trying again. Relapsed a few months ago when he got worse, stopped, wasn't.

He was committed.

He wouldn't talk to either of the parents and stopped talking to Amy's friend too.

She called him every day. Said she loved him and was there. But she's in law school, first year, Harvard, two thousand miles away. He was here, in Denver. The distance is so far. But she called every day.

I can't imagine. What a tragedy, for the whole family, but I think especially for his sister, probably because she's who I know. She loved him so much, did everything she could. It wasn't enough. It wasn't her fault. She probably feels like it was.

I know my sister loves me.