I’ve been ill. Nothing serious just the usual winter nonsense that makes sleeping difficult. As a consequence, I’ve been up in the middle of the night trying to calm down my bronchioli with steam and thyme and honey (since you ask). So last night at the witching hour of three o’clock, as I was waiting for the nest of burning baby spiders to stop running up and down my upper respiratory tract, I had the thought – it’s the perfect time for foxes and lo and behold there was a fox running up the middle of the road towards the block that I live in. It approached the main road, crossed it and then continued along the alley that skirts the elevated tube line. Over the next fifteen minutes I might as well have been on the fox M25. I don’t know if it was the same one but I saw a fox about six different times. How I love them! – their fantastic colour, their white chests, the way they hold their white tipped tails just above the surface of the pavement. They always seems so purposeful.
And I was reminded of a book I read earlier in the year, MAYBE A FOX, by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee. Ostensibly this is a children’s book but it can be read with just as much pleasure by adults. The theme of the book is death, grief and what happens to us after we die, it is also about the love between siblings. Here’s a bit of the blurb.
“Jules adores her older sister. Then, into thin air, Sylvie goes missing. As Jules stumbles into grief, a fox cub is born: a shadow fox, spirit and animal in one.”
The authors write beautifully about the natural world about mysticism about love. The book resonated long after I had finished it and it is a perfect winter book being set in a very snowy Vermont.
Here is the beautiful poem by Patricia Fargnoli that starts the book:
SHOULD THE FOX COME AGAIN TO MY CABIN IN THE SNOW
Then the winter will have fallen all in white
and the hill will be rising to the north,
the night also rising and leaving,
dawn light just coming in, the fire out.
Down the hill running will come that flame
among the dancing skeletons of the ash trees.
I will leave the door open for him.
The book dares to have quite a tough, sad ending and I liked that about it as well. And then I was reminded of the book below. A book I loved as a child. It is the story of how the Tomten, a swedish elf, keeps the chickens safe from the fox. Basically, it’s enchanting, has the most beautiful illustrations and everyone should buy it.
Do you have a favourite children’s book you associate with winter or with Christmas?