“As willy REYNARD view’d with wishful eyes, a CROW possess’d of a delicious prize … “

ST. JOHN’S EVE HAS PAST. The days, still long, have become hot, and the coolness of night now becomes what the days once were. Outside is stillness. The songbirds have fled into the darkness of the forest. Only the long suffering eagle, scolded by two crows, crosses the sky.

Others have fled, too. The fox family, once daily visitors, have vacated their den. The dog fox, a proud cross of red & gray foxes, with a bright orange face, long black stockings, and a tail that trailed all the way back to the neighbor’s yard, no longer makes his daily jaunt along the north drainage ditch. His vixen, petite and delicate, no longer crosses the bridge over the stream just after sunrise, the limp rabbit clutched in her jaws almost as large as she. The five kits no longer venture from the den in the late afternoon to take in the sun.

Who knows why they left? Maybe it was the neighborhood dogs, who had become all too interested in them? I will never know. They don’t live by my leave. I only know the neighborhood feels empty.

Much is said of the state of contemporary education. So, perhaps the younger generation can be forgiven if they think the only eternal war that exists is between vampire & werewolf. That is what silly books will do. But there is another, older, eternal battle waged between contestants of equal worth, fox vs. crow, vulpes vulpes vs. corvus brachyrhynchos.

“The Fox and the Crow,” from Early Children’s Books and Their Illustration. Boston: D.R. Godine, 1975.

Aesop knew two thousand years ago, just as I know today. Who is a match for the watcher from the top of spruces? The mimicker? The tool maker? The strutter around the bird feeder? The petty thief of shiny objects? Not the eagle. His flight is ignominious. Not the raven. He made his last stand against the crows from a tall red pine as I watched from the woodpile last May. Certainly not I, for I am nothing but a man.

We will live under the tyranny of the crow until the fox returns … until the king comes across the water.

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