Yes, I know, the Ylvis song dates from 2013, and I remember at the time a lot of reference librarians I know were annoyed by dozens of patrons sending in the question “What does the fox say?” every day, but I couldn’t resist, and anyway I still like the song and I think the statute of limitations has passed.
And what reminded me of it is this video of a man serenading a wild fox, which the fox seemed to appreciate:
It’s an interesting thing at this time of because, well, in the United States in a few weeks a lot of people are getting ready to roast and eat a large bird that’s been purposely fattened up, beheaded, plucked, and, in most cases, frozen for shipment across long distances—that is if supply chain issues don’t keep causing trouble. And in Canada they did it a few weeks ago, while in Europe the Christmas goose, or other bird–including the turkey, or, at one time, an imported African fowl–isn’t far from meeting its own demise.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’ve eaten plenty of Thanksgiving turkey, and plan to eat more, but, to get back to the guy serenading the fox, it did make me think about how our relationship to animals is, to put it mildly, complicated. And that’s partly because we are animals ourselves. We may think that what we call civilization sets us apart but, at heart, our hearts aren’t that different from those of our fellow mammals, which is what makes our interactions with them so layered.
Some animals we love and invite into our homes, some we fear, some we just eat. Foxen are among those that defy easy categorization. They’re metaphors for beauty, cleverness, ruthlessness, they’ve been hunted for their fur, and they’ve been hunted as just vermin. They’re wild creatures and yet there’s a funny line going around of people describing foxen as “dogs running cat software”.
I think that’s one reason the traditional English fox hunt is declining. Well, that and fox populations are declining. And, well, a traditional English fox hunt ultimately only has one goal: to kill the fox. Say what you will about Thanksgiving but at least we eat the turkey.