Once again, I find myself in Glasgow. There’s something surreal about being here this time. The first time I walked up the stairs to the apartment where I spent September to January and where I will spend the next month was strange. This is familiar home-not-home territory. Sitting in the living room now where I took that picture of the thick fogoutside in January feels a bit odd. I’m dancing with my relationship with this place that was just a mental picture before my first visit last July but that has become a cherished friend since then. One powerful connection snapped my spirit into a sense of recognition today as I rode the bus home. As we passed an open park, I watched a fox walk across the grass without hurry or concern, looking like a small, red, bushy tailed version of the all the other commuters heading to their homes, the shops, or their favorite pub.
This place is full of foxes. They are something like the raccoons I know from California and Washington. They are the medium sized mammals that roam the streets freely, knowing that they own this space as much as any of the two legged mammals that have built the city around them. They scrounge through our garbage cans. They might be found sitting under a warm car that was recently parked on a cold night. They might be nocturnal, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t go for a day light stroll if they feel like it.
There is something quite comforting to me about the presence of the foxes. They are said to be great allies to travelers, but there is so much more to them than that. In many traditions, their medicine is about survival and protection of the family. They are keen observers. Fox is persistent, yet less aggressive than their canine cousin the wolf. They are intelligent and crafty. Their comfortable ownership of these streets despite the danger teaches me a lesson about walking around here in the murder capital of Europe.
Foxes are said to be masters of camouflage, and yet I see them on most of my night time walks and quite a few day time adventures here in Glasgow. They are the predators of the small rodents that would otherwise be a major nuisance to the human inhabitants of this city. Maybe they know how important they are to the balance in this place and that makes them bold. Or maybe they just know that they can outsmart most of those who would want to cause them harm.
But when I see a fox, I do not think of danger, or camouflage or of survival. I think of resilience and I think of home. They trigger a sense of calm strength in me. Perhaps they even give me a sense that there is a comfortable den near by, a place with people I care about, warm food and good hugs.