Foxes In The City

I was getting around to a novel that begins a mystery series I am hoping to finish and I found that the lead character, despite being a widow in a first-century mystery novel, was rather Nathanish.  To wit, the following quote:  “The foxes were like me.  Private, ruthless and self-sufficient.  Intelligent and untameable, yet capable of strong loyalty.  Loners who could socialize, joyously and playfully, but afterwards slip back into being reclusive.   We all lived within the city community, yet surrepititiously.  We were never truly part of it.”  This quote prompted at least a few thoughts on my part.  What is it that makes the lead character Nathanish, aside from her ability to identify with wary and out of place animals?  And what is it that makes her feel out of place in Rome?  As I have not finished the novel yet, I cannot give definitive answers to these questions, but at least from what I have read so far, the lead character is an outsider to Roman society, having been born in Britain, and of course the author makes her a fierce ragamuffin who is also a rape survivor.  Prolonged experience as an abused outsider does make it rather hard, if not impossible, to truly be a part of the community where one happens to live, any community.  The fact that the character could identify with urban foxes doomed to be set aflame for a heathen religious ritual to Ceres was all the more poignant.

I have long been a fan of Nina Gordon.  Although her solo discography is not particularly extensive, she did have a really great solo debut with the album “Tonight And The Rest Of My Life,” which I bought when it was released and I liked the first two singles I had heard on the radio.  It was a worthwhile, if somewhat obscure, album to celebrate, in that it had a lot of worthwhile deep tracks that were never released as a single.  One of these songs is the poignant and deeply moving “Horses In The City.”  The song portrays the singer/songwriter as being sleepless and fretting over the course of her life and feeling out of place like the horses she sees pulling carriages along busy city streets.  She wonders if she will be able to write any more songs or sleep peacefully again.  It is not made particularly clear why she feels this way, but the fact that she feels that her words will come out wrong and be misinterpreted and her traumatic feeling of not belonging are certainly feelings that are easy enough to relate to.

This morning my CASA case had a short permanency hearing where it was agreed by all that some things needed to be done in the case but that it was moving towards adoption by the paternal grandparents of the kiddo.  Afterwards I had the chance to chat with the rather talkative paternal grandmother, who commented about the task of putting back the pieces of their sparkplug of a granddaughter.  I commented that the issues the kiddo are dealing with are likely to be issues her entire life.  As Elie Wiesel said, once a survivor, always a survivor.  The kiddo grew up in a household with a mother who was a drug addict who brought dangerous men home, at least one of whom molested her.  You don’t get to press reset and avoid the repercussions of that kind of act.  You can grow up and deal with your difficulty with transitions, struggle with your intense sensitivity to various matters, but you never entirely get rid of it.  Once you have stared into the abyss, the abyss has stared into you and you never truly belong where you are either.  Ordinary human society depends on a certain policy of genteel fiction by which it is pretended that nothing too horrible goes on and that everything is at least mostly alright, and those who have survived the horrors of such evil are a reminder of the fictional nature of that belief.

Why would foxes be found in a city?  The ancient city of Rome, and this was true even more of the less populous medieval city that replaced it, had a lot of greenfield space where there were few people and a great many prey animals and easily available food.  Foxes are not particularly sociable animals, but they are opportunistic animals that are able to be around people.  The same is true of coyotes in the West, who feel comfortable very close to the cities of Cascadia that I am familiar with, as I have sometimes seen in my own driving.  Why are horses found in cities?  As it happens, human beings like to be taken around by horses, as it is a comforting experience in a city that is often crowded and alienating to human beings as well as other denizens of creation.  If one is attentive and observant, one can often find various animals in the city, be it birds or butterflies, squirrels or skunks, most of whom are generally pleasant to encounter in the course of one’s walking or in the places where one sits on a park bench and reads or ponders about life.  Do these animals belong in our cities?  No, but then again, we likely do not belong either.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Foxes In The City

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    We were designed to need personal space. When the walls are breached and they close in on us, the damage is often permanent.

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