It was a biting evening in September when my father suggested we go for a walk. I was only six, and as such in not the best position to form a convincing argument against this plan. So I allowed myself to be bundled up into my winter things then led, crunching and crackling, out through the golden drifts of paper-dry leaves. We walked as far down the lane as my stubby legs would take me, then my father lifted me up onto the top of a gate to watch a trio of fox cubs playing in a field.
They were tumbling over each other, snapping and snarling in their infant voices, rehearsing future conquests and defeats from the safety of childhood innocence. Their peculiar antics held my young gaze captive. So much so that I didnt see the vixen until the cubs left off their game to flock around her, licking the corners of her mouth expectantly. Ive seen foxes many times since then; mangy, rat-tailed things, all scummy brown. But in my memory of that autumn evening she was the most beautif