As I work more deeply with the land and our fellow inhabitants I come to understand the importance of relationship.
The usual wisdom is to stay detached, to be nothing more than an observer of nature so that we see the truth of her (or 'it' as science would have us say).
During my half a century of doing my best to do the right thing with our natural world this advice never really fitted with me. After all, aren't we too a part of the grand sphere on which we live? Don't we breath the same air, drink the same water and walk the same landscapes? Simply by being present we are having an impact in some way with everything else that's connected to the bio-system, aren't we?
I can understand that if our goal is to study the life and patterns of a creature we do need to stay out of the picture, but isn't it more valuable to ascertain what is going on at a more connected level? This is something of a catch 22 situation in some ways. We watched My Octopus Teacher a few evenings ago and both were struck by the mystery, magic and wisdom of this beautiful animal, and by the dedication of the diver who befriended her.
I could sense an inner battle raging within him as he saw her attacked by sharks. He chose not to intervene and save her from the trauma because he felt he had no right to interfere. Yet he admits to being in a relationship with her. His presence affected her actions, her thought processes and no doubt her outlook on life, whatever that means for an octopus.
He, and hence we, would not have seen the astounding limb regeneration processes or the intelligent way of defeating a further attack if he had chosen to 'save' her from harm. Yet what must she have felt as she was being mauled on the seabed? Her new friend who she chose to wrap her arms around, stroke and entrust with her very life, stood by and did nothing when she was hurting. What must she have thought? He did ponder on what she got from the relationship when he got so much. Yet he held back from balancing this by looking out for her.
The octopus used him in her hunting strategies, put herself at risk by rising to the surface with him and perhaps even had 'feelings' for him, whatever that may mean. And we hear reports of dolphins coming to the aid of swimmers in distress and of other interspecies relationships which show a level of empathy, care and cooperation. So why not accept that we too are a part of this? Is it because humans are taught that we are better than, more intelligent than any other earthy inhabitant?
I'm exploring what it feels like to be an integral part of the land on which we walk, accepting our part in this big vista of life. This means taking responsibility, becoming attached and allowing feelings to mesh with the other than human beings. It means taking responsibility for our food whether that be vegan, vegetarian, omnivore or carnivore since this connection must also extend to include the plant beings who live alongside us too. In truth it touches so much more of our life choices.
5 nights with fox
I spent five nights with the fox family and became deeply absorbed with them. Our relationship quite consumed me. I took it personally when the cubs were under threat, I grieve that they may now be dead. Already. Those joyous new beings bouncing around with their dad, boldly approaching me and being curious about life. The dog fox and vixen who took me into their family for a while, noticeably making decisions about me, weighing me up and choosing to share some of their life with me. With no possibility of payback.
Except perhaps there is a chance for me to repay their gift to me. I've made a short film of their story shot through with truth and beauty. You can find it below my piece of poetry below. If this visual offering persuades just one viewer to give a fox the benefit of the doubt, to counter the threat to their chickens with better fencing rather than gun or trap I feel I will have given a little something back to this family who gave me so much of themselves for five long evenings.
A burning bronze ember stitching a tawny tale
into the fabric of old apple trees
loosing the moons silver over the meadow
Dragging the east wind
with his ample brush
Weaving song lines between dandelion clock
and may blossom
The unchartered maps written anew
with every paw step on wild earth
Blood eyed stares and hot breath glimpses
Double step the orchard trot
to where the grace of cubs and vixen pause
to watch meadow life green into vibrant memory
Carried by fire struck gnat clouds
in dark crow talk
forked with star language
Coloured brown by Kentish clay
Musk trails cauldroned, stirred with worm coil
Tense Exhalations hung on grass
Fox tales linger the longest.
Longer than my usual offerings, my video 'fox' tells the intimate story of those 5 nights. I hope you enjoy it and welcome your comments. I'm creating more immersive content with the notion of Truth and Beauty threaded throughout.
If you'd like to know when I complete more image galleries, freely downloadable ebooks or short films on nature and earth relationship let me know where to send the notification using the box below.
Captivating footage and words Jason, I hope they survive and thrive.
Thank you Anne. I was rather nervous about the narrative but rather glad I stepped up.
Thank you Michele.
Absolutely stunning video Jason, I followed your Facebook story of this fox family and cried when I saw the clip the night camera captured. Really pleased you managed to return and see the mum and dad fox, I hope the cubs are ok. Nature is beautiful, sadly it is us humans who can be cruel. You are very welcome to film and take photographs on our land any time you wish. It would be amazing to see what wildlife live here. What an honour to see this, thank you for sharing.
Sue this is kind of you to say. And thank you for the kind offer of filming on your land. Apologies for taking a while to reply. You’ll be pleased to know that we’ve just had reports that both fox cubs are fine and dandy! 🙂
I’m so happy to hear the gunshots didn’t harm the little family that night Jason.
Ah yes. It weighed really heavily on us until we heard the good news.
This has moved and captivated me Jason, absolutely beautiful footage….I could feel the relationship building between you, the way they watched you….weighing you up. I loved that you narrated it rather than just using music because it makes it so intensely personal. I hope and pray they survive, such beauty in their trusting eyes…Thank you for sharing them with us.
Thank you Michelle, this is kind of you to say. I will play with narration more as I dive more deeply into film maker me. Interestingly I’m finding that when I spend quality, immersive time, giving of my whole self to the beings I’m watching whether it be deer, fox, gannet or butterfly, then a deep relationship does form. And you know what, it sticks with me. I wake in the night thinking of them, even the Comma butterfly I met several years ago steps into my mind often. It’s like old friends, but even deeper… lovers almost. Strange isn’t it.
Truth and beauty. So beautifully made and told. Thank you
Thank you for your comment Mary. I’m pleased you enjoyed it.
What a gentle reminder of the way you work Jason. I enjoyed hearing you explain your process and help me to understand how much time you spend letting your subjects get to know you and build trust with you. I live where the urban foxes are bolder and so am blessed to see them playing with their cubs each year. They don’t look as healthy as their wild cousins in Kent. What magnificent tails the dog and vixen have.
Thank you for this Rachael. Yes, I’m not used to bold foxes and get quite excited to see any fox even in the distance! I think it’s all about trust. Great to hear that you too enjoy your foxy encounters.